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Showing posts from March, 2010

Preachers, Leaders, yes, ALL Christians—SHUN Laziness!

“Some pastors and preachers are lazy and no good. They do not pray; they do not read; they do not search the Scripture…The call is: watch, study, attend to reading. In truth you cannot read too much in Scripture; and what you read cannot be read too carefully, and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well, and what you understand well you cannot teach too well, and what you teach well you cannot live too well…The devil…the world…and our flesh are raging and raving against us. Therefore, dear sirs and brothers, pastors and preachers, pray, read, study, be diligent…This evil, shameful time is not the season for being lazy, for sleeping and snoring.” —Martin Luther

Calvin on the Glory of God.

I'm preaching on Ephesians 1:13-14 tomorrow night: Greek: Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ, ὅ ἐστιν ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν, εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως, εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ . Translation: In whom [=Christ, 1:12] when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also when you believed were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the down payment of our inheritance, unto the redemption for His own possession, to the praise of His glory. John Calvin rightly and wisely writes regarding the glory of God in Eph 1:14 (and repeated throughout in Eph 1): The frequent mention of the glory of God ought not to be regarded as superfluous, for what is infinite cannot be too strongly expressed . This is particularly true in commendations of the Divine mercy, for which every godly person will always feel himself unable to find a

Carson on "The Trials of Biblical Studies"

Folks, I can't encourage all my readers enough to read this article. D.A. Carson writes on some of the trials that current theologians, scholars, and pastors face nowadays. I don't think I've read a more head-on, practical, and convicting, and scholarly article in quite some time. Click here to read the pdf article from the book: The Trials of Theology , edited by Cameron and Rosner (2010). Here's a quote: This polarization of reading approaches [of the scrutinizing, objective study one employs in a seminary exegesis course and the devotional reading of the Bible] is to be resisted as an abomination. In your most diligent technical study, you should be trying to understand what God himself has said through this text, trying to think God's thoughts after him, worshiping God with reverence and joy as you deploy your newly learned 'tools' to think more critically" (111).

The Christian life is not about 'quick-decisions' but a 'lifetime' of godliness

God has laid it on my heart recently that the Christian life is not primarily consisting of quick, one-time, brief decisions. I'm utterly convinced that the Christian life requires a lifetime (ongoing habitual, persistent) pursuit of Christlikeness. Let me explain. Many can say, "I believed" and "I confessed Jesus as Lord" but this is a quick one-time statement. The real evidence and fruit of that statement is 'proven' over the course of time—over the long haul. Or similarly, many can fall into sin (regardless of what it is) and then come to the pastor and say, "I repent;" "I will change." But this 'confession' is proven genuine over the long haul; of the course of time as that person continually refrains from that sin and continues to hate that sin and loathe the sinful nature and sinful temptations and fly to Christ when those fleshly temptations arise again. In other words, don't be deceived by quick, one-time, spu

A cool tidbit from James 1:24 in Greek

I saw something this morning in James that I hadn't seen before in James 1:24. The text reads: Greek: κατενόησεν γὰρ ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀπελήλυθεν καὶ εὐθέως ἐπελάθετο ὁποῖος ἦν. (Literal) Translation: For he looks at himself and departs and immediately forgets what he was like. There are three verbs to discuss in this verse (excluding the last verb ἦν): (1) he looks (κατενόησεν); (2) he departs (ἀπελήλυθεν); and he forgets (ἐπελάθετο). Respectively, they are aorist, perfect, and aorist verb forms. The question we ask is why did the author change verb forms in the middle of a chain like this? What is he trying to convey? What is his intended point? If any? (Often, a change in verbal form like this is atypical and suggests emphasis/prominence.) The middle verb (he departs, ἀπελήλυθεν) is the perfect verbal form in Greek. Porter, Decker and many others have suggested that the perfect verbal form is not necessarily referring to "tense" per se (past action with ongoing results) but

The value of God's Word is unspeakably high.

This book [=the Bible] contains: the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrine is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you . It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, health to the soul, and a river of pleasure. It is given to you here in this life, will be opened at the Judgment, and is established forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor

Hardships in life. Do you love 'em or despise 'em?

Last night I preached on Psalm 57 and many commentators see it as a lament psalm. I agree with this in part because the end of the psalm ends in a psalm of praise. But the think that rocked me this week was how David wrote this psalm from the cave (see the superscription of Ps 57) while fleeing from King Saul. He found refuge in God and in God alone. He quieted his soul and refreshed his spirit in the LORD because of his determination and resolve to trust the LORD amidst hardships (vv.1-3). But verse 4 reveals that the hardship did not end. David’s refuge in God did not demand that the trial would come to an end. In other words, David continued to trust in God even when life continued to be “hard.” I find that oftentimes these are mutually exclusive in our minds. That is to say, if I’m truly going to come to the LORD for refuge and shelter, and if God is going to come to me and be with me, then we somehow think that this will inevitably result in the termination of that trial or hards

Expository preaching is absolutely necessary!

In my research for my expository preaching paper, I came across this quote that encouraged me: "Expository preaching is a most exacting discipline. Perhaps that is why it is so rare. Only those will undertake it who are prepared to follow the example of the apostles and say, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables. . . . We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:2, 4). The systematic preaching of the Word is impossible without the systematic study of it. It will not be enough to skim through a few verses in daily Bible reading, nor to study a passage only when we have to preach from it. No. We must daily soak ourselves in the Scriptures. We must not just study, as through a microscope, the linguistic minutiae of a few verses, but take our telescope and scan the wide expanses of God’s Word, assimilating its grand theme of divine sovereignty in the redemption of mankind." —John Stott, The Preacher's

Preaching and preachers and papers...

This week is especially exciting and busy for me. I am concluding one paper (Hebrews 1:5 and its usage of the OT) and beginning another paper (what is the role of dialoguing in preaching, if any?) for my PhD courses. I am super excited about these papers and have been learning a lot in my reading and writing. I’m preaching Ephesians 1:7-12 tonight on the work of Jesus in our salvation. I am teaching that Jesus the Son actually redeemed us as our salvation is complete (7), God’s grace is sufficient (8-9), Jesus’ supremacy is all-encompassing (10), God’s providence is sovereign (11), and God’s glory is preeminent (12). Tomorrow I’m preaching on Psalm 57. Psalm 57 tells us how to act if when we’re persecuted. David marvelously lays forth the plan for praying and asking God to be merciful (1), to finding shelter, provision, and God’s presence in the shadow of His wings (1b), and then David resolves in his heart to praise and worship God by exalting his glory, love, and truth (vv.3, 5, 11).

God poured out infinite hell on Jesus.

An amazing thought to mull over today... "God poured out the infinite hell of his wrath upon His Son—who by the power of His infinite life could bear it—and thus God's wrath is turned aside from true believers, or propitiated (=satisfied), by the blood of Christ." Source: Richard Philips, Chosen in Christ: The Glory of Grace in Ephesians 1 , 103.

PhD students just don't read about liberal skeptics, we also meet with them at In-n-Out

One of the challenges in a PhD program is that I have to read books—a lot of them! Some are wonderfully devotional, others are quite tedious, and still others are just flat out skeptical. Yesterday I spent an hour at an In-n-Out with one of these skeptics. He had not written a book denying the miracles of Christ. But he was a young man who claimed he “once was saved” and was very involved in a local church and he “felt right with God” yet now he denies any sort of biblical inerrancy (historicity for that matter!). He claims that the miracles in the gospels were myth. Why didn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Paul and Peter all make up the miracles that Jesus did?, he claims. These couldn’t have really happened. Really? I listened to his story and his critiques for about 30 minutes without saying a word. I kept reminding myself that I’m so glad inspiration is where God through His Spirit sovereignly bestows conviction into the heart and soul of the believer (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14-16). But aft

subjectivism vs. objectivism

Late last night I received a phone call from a guy in our college group who was hanging out with a good buddy of his when he was shocked to hear the news that his friend was disinterested in the Christian faith and was no longer going to walk the walk. Startled, he called me and asked me some questions. He said that his friend just used to feel God but now he doesn't . He said that he once felt God's presence but now he doesn't. I had this very same conversation with another college guy earlier this week in my office at church. Think about this theology for a moment. For the sake of the argument, if we base our theology on experience (which is what many [most?] professing Christians in America do) then what does that say about their theology? I felt God as I was singing the worship songs last week and reading my Bible, but this week I just don't feel God. I guess that means that God isn't with me anymore. That theology says that God was once with a person and the

God sovereignly chose me NOT because of anything good in me.

Some have thought over the years and centuries that God elects some to salvation and its blessings but that He does so on the basis of a choice, a response of faith, or some other good that he foresees in them. Inasmuch as this is a quite recent view (that is to say, it is not the historic, New Testament, viewpoint) the major flaw with this thinking is that it credits way too much good to human depravity. When people have trouble with God’s sovereignty in election, their real problem is not with the doctrine of election—although they want to think that it is—but it is really with the doctrine of depravity that makes election necessary. They want to think that there is some good that motivates or causes God to choose us. This is quite a high view of anthropology! John Calvin has it right when he states: “How should God foresee that which could not be? For we know that all Adam’s offspring is corrupted and that we do not have the skill to think one good thought or doing well, and much le

gospel from isaiah 59.

If this isn't straight gospel from the OT, I'm not sure what is... Isaiah 59:1-20 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness. 4 No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion and speak lies; They conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity. 5 They hatch adders' eggs and weave the spider's web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth. 6 Their webs will not become clothing, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And an act of violence is in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent b

fear God.

Today on my bus I read a book on hell. It was very insightful, sobering, and motivational to share the gospel. I want to note some of the quotes that spoke to my heart: "The death that each of us has to die one day does not make an end of man. All is not over when the last breath is drawn and the doctor's last visit has been paid—when the coffin is screwed down, and the funeral preparations are made—when "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" has been pronounced over the grave—when our place in the world is filled up, and the gap made by our absence from society is no longer noticed. No all is not over then! The spirit of man still lives on. Everyone has within him an undying soul... --JC Ryle "I am one of those old-fashioned ministers who believe the whole Bible and everything that it contains. I can find no Scriptural foundation for that smooth-spoken theology that pleases so many in these days, and according to which everybody will get to heaven at last." --

don't let sin go untouched.

"Sin left untouched reveals an indifference to sin, a disregard for God's holiness, a rejection of God's command to repent, and, hence, a soul that is unregenerated and without the living breath of spiritual life."

don't be an enemy of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:17-21 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. In Philippians 3 the enemies of the cross of Christ are noted by four characteristics. First, they are those whose end is destruction. These enemies have as their final end the destruction prepared by God for all unbelievers. This does not refer to extinction or a time of completion of suffering but rather a horrific, eternal, c

reasons I'm excited this week.

That I get paid to study the Bible and preach the Word baffles me constantly, but I praise the LORD that He has sovereignly called me to such a vocation. I love what I do and I would never want to change it. This week is especially exciting for a few reasons: 1) I'm starting the b ook of Ephesians in our Tuesday night Bible study. Tonight is a jet tour through the book and what a joy it has been to read through this marvelous book. I'm embarking upon Ephesians for a host of reasons, a few of which are (a) to understand the supremacy and sovereignty of God in our salvation; (b) to give the gospel every week (and it's in the text too!); (c) to show how it is absolutely imperative to be what you are (live a life of obedience as a believer who has experienced the new birth. It should be fun. 2) I'm resuming my study on Wednesday night in the book of Psalms. We're on Psalm 55 this week. We're over one-third of the way through the book and I'm enjoying the study