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Showing posts from May, 2010

Worship Christ this Lord's Day ...

Psalm 66:1-4 Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; 2 Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. 3 Say to God, "How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You. 4 "All the earth will worship You, And will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name." Selah.

God atones for sin — in the OT!

Anyone who knows his Jewish scriptures well understands that God appointed Levitical priests to offer sacrifices to "atone" for sin in the OT (just peruse through the pages of Leviticus 16 to see this). Last night I preached on Psalm 65 at church and found myself drawn to verse 3. Text : דִּבְרֵ֣י עֲ֭וֹנֹת גָּ֣בְרוּ מֶ֑נִּי פְּ֝שָׁעֵ֗ינוּ אַתָּ֥ה תְכַפְּרֵֽם׃ Translation : "The accounts of my iniquities prevail against me; but our transgressions you, yourself, have atoned for [them] ." Amazingly, there are three places in the OT where God makes atonement for sins (all 3 are in Pss)—and this is one of them. The remarkable thing in my mind is the fact that God appointed priests to perform the ceremony. Here in Psalm 65:3, the psalmist refers to the gospel. This is gospel 101. This is fundamental to everyone who has a saving relationship with God. I. Understand Your Iniquities are Too Great for You to Bear —You cannot bear your own sins! Sorry, but you can't! The

our consumer mentality way of going about 'church'

Soong-Chan Rah writes: "How easy it is for an American Christian to finding the right church the way we approach buying cereal at the local supermarket? We're looking for all the right ingredients and rejecting churches because they don't have our style of worship, our style of preaching, or our type of people. We're purchasing a product rather than committing to the body of Christ. We are captive to the Western, white captivity of the church in our materialistic and consumeristic bent, more accurately reflecting American culture and society than Scripture." Source: Soong-Chan Rah, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press, 2009), 47. *Note* – I don't agree with everything Rah writes in this book. In fact, much is quite brashly said in this book but I think that this quote hits us dead on.

"Be killing your sin or your sin will be killing you" — a primer on the power of sin

This Sunday I preached on 1 Samuel 15 and how Saul disobeyed God and refused to put Agag and all the Amalekites do death—as the Lord had commanded. After swiftly progressing through the chapter, we finally arrived at v.33 where it reads: "Samuel hacked Agag to pieces." I think the NIV totally misses it as it says: "Samuel put Agag to death." וַיְשַׁסֵּ֨ף שְׁמוּאֵ֧ל אֶת־אֲגָ֛ג לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה בַּגִּלְגָּֽל׃ Interestingly, the word is used in modern Hebrew to 'separate' and this was the similar idea long ago as it was a butchering term used to divide and chop up in pieces. Why such extreme measures? Why did Samuel commit this kind of bloody-gruesome-violent deed? Because it was precisely the man Agag who was the trophy of Saul's disobedience. At the conclusion of the chapter I practically gave three ways that every Christian must strive to put sin to death at its root (this portion of the sermon comprised half of my time). If you only pluck the weeds i

Humble Christians Repent of Their Sin Rather Than Shifting the Blame to Others...

Matthew Henry wisely remarks (referring to Saul's blame-shifting in 1 Sam 15:15, 21): "Those that are willing to justify themselves are commonly very forward to condemn others, and to lay the blame upon any rather than take it to themselves. Sin is a brat that nobody cares to have laid at his doors. It is the sorry subterfuge of an impenitent heart, that will not confess its guilt, to lay the blame on those that are tempters, or partners, or only followers in it."

if you're not gripped by God's Word when you preach then bank on it—no one else will be gripped by it either.

Gordon Fee writes: "Remember: Sermon preparation without personal encounter with the Word and without prayer will probably lack inspiration; and sermons preached by those who have not themselves sat in awful silence before the majesty of God and His Word will probably accomplish very little" (Gordon Fee, New Testament Exegesis , 3rd ed., p.152).

having proper English grammar IS important when you preach.

Those who knew me in high school affirm that I should not be the guy to give English grammar advice, but here it goes. I often hear preachers use grammar incorrectly when they speak of applying texts to you and I (it should be "you and me"). Consider some of the following phrases. Should it be... 1. Pastor Bob and me decided to start a new series... or Pastor Bob and I decide to start a new series... 2. Jerry applied the text to my wife and I or Jerry applied the text to my wife and me . Here is a very good and clear description of when to use me and when to use I in your preaching. Just between you and me, today I'm going to talk about the pronouns I and me . I've been meaning to talk about the phrase between you and I for a while, but when I heard that Hillary Clinton had chosen the song “You and I” by Celine Dion for her campaign theme song, I knew it was finally the right time to tackle this topic! That's because Celine Dion's song “You and

P-R-A-Y ... How do you respond when people talk 'behind your back'?

As you know I'm preaching through the book of Psalms and last night I taught on Psalm 64 . The psalm marvelously reveals David's (prayerful) response to his enemies who secretly plot verbal attacks against him. David proffers a fitting model for us to glean from when the time comes and we're viciously attacked—verbally, slanderously, maliciously. I divided the psalm with a four-fold structure and I incorporated in my outline an acronym for P-R-A-Y. I. P— P etition God's Ear (1-2) In this section David cries to God with three staccato-like, concise, terse shouts to God: 1. Hear me (1a) 2. Preserve me (1b) 3. Hide me (2) Amazingly, this section is not just asking God to actually 'hear' his prayer. David knows God will actually 'listen' to his prayer. What David is praying for is for God to act and not be in active. He wants God to get up and respond to his request! What a good model for us to pray this way. There are times in our lives when we are sland

know the gospel. preach the gospel. live the gospel.

From Charles Spurgeon: "The hearing of the gospel involves the hearer in responsibility. It is a great privilege to hear the gospel. You may smile and think there is nothing very great in it. The damned in hell know. Oh, what would they give if they could hear the gospel now? If they could come back and entertain but the shadow of a hope that they might escape from the wrath to come? The saved in heaven estimate this privilege at a high rate, for, having obtained salvation through the preaching of this gospel, they can never cease to bless their God for calling them by his word of truth. O that you knew it! On your dying beds the listening to a gospel sermon will seem another thing than it seems now." Heed these wise words!

does God hear the prayers of nonChristians?

No. Scripture is replete with texts clearly stating that the only way to God the Father is through Jesus Christ. Period. No other way is acceptable. Not only does this include salvation but it also includes coming before the Father in prayer. Last night I preached on evangelism and how it is imperative for the Christian to have a burden for the lost and share the gospel with unbelieving friends, family, and strangers. Afterward, one individual approached me and asked if God hears the prayers of good moral people who are not Christians. I responded by saying: "no." John 14:6 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 1 Timothy 2:5 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Ephesians 3:11-12 in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. These verses state that it is only through Jesus that anyone can appr

Paul's growth in humility.

One interesting note revealed in the Pauline letters is that his humility seems to go deeper as he senses his own unworthiness as he continues in Christ's ministry. I've heard it said from many men older and much wiser than myself that the longer a man is in ministry the humbler that man becomes. Often I hear it said that the greatest obstacle to young, energetic, dogmatic preachers is pride— pride ! We often here such statements (and rightly so!) as: Strangle all pride. Kill all pride. Cut it off. Gouge it out—at its root! This is not to (even remotely) suggest that the Apostle Paul was prideful at the outset of his ministry but it is to say that the longer a man is in the ministry preaching and teaching God's Word, and the more a man learns more about the unfathomable riches of Christ Jesus, the deeper and stronger and baser that man's humility will be. Paul exemplifies this in three statements. 1. Paul says he is the least of all the apostles (Ἐγὼ γάρ εἰμι ὁ ἐλάχιστ

San Diego is beautiful.

off we go.

Snatching the wife for a couple of days in the (almost always) perfect weather in San Diego.

you find contentment when you are satisfied with the glory of God.

From John Piper: The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God. We were made for this. "ring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth ... whom I created for my glory ," says the Lord (Isaiah 43:6-7). To see it, to savor it, and to show it—that is why we exist. The untracked, unimaginable stretches of the created universe are a parable about the inexhaustible "riches of his glory" (Romans 9:23) ... The ache of every human heart is an ache for this. ... The point is this: we were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things; and when we trade that treasure for images, everything is disordered. The sun of God's glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our soul. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. But when the sun is displaced, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attractin

a conviction—a belief that seizes a man.

When man holds opinions, it is a belief. But when the beliefs hold a man, it is a conviction. How many of us really have convictions . I mean, full fledged, biblical convictions? We all hold convictions about certain things—family issues, political viewpoints, religious ideologies, relational issues. The man of God, however, must hold firm convictions that nothing, no one, ever can destroy. The believer in Jesus Christ believes the Word of God to be wholly true, perfectly inspired and eminently relevant. It is when this believer, who believes in God's Word is thus held and seized by the objective truth God's Word that he now has a conviction about God's Word. Convictions just don't change overnight. When a conviction grabs a hold of a man and won't let him go then nothing can sway this person from the truth. All believers are to have convictions. All regenerate persons are to not only hold the truth of God's Word as reliable and trustworthy but be willing to be

The wisdom of God in the salvation of God for the people of God.

Tonight I’m preaching on the radical reconciliation between Jew and Gentile in the body of Christ. Paul interrupts himself after v.1 (which he doesn’t pick up again till v.14 in his prayer) with a lengthy parenthetical remark on his stewardship to make known the mystery of Christ. If I employ verbal aspect to this passage (Eph 3:1-13) there is only one perfect verbal form which gives heightened prominence (marked emphasis) to arrest the listener/reader’s attention on this most-important point. The perfect verb form is found in verse 9: καὶ φωτίσαι [πάντας] τίς ἡ οἰκονομία τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ ἀποκεκρυμμένου ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων ἐν τῷ θεῷ τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι. Thus, the perfect participle ἀποκεκρυμμένου brings the idea of this mystery which was once hidden but yet it has existed since the eternal times in God (v.9b). But now this mystery (μυστηρίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, cf. v.4) has been revealed where both Jew and Gentile can worship together in one body on equal ground because of Christ’s atoning deat

has your head knowledge become heart affection?

From a Christian brother... Even great familiarity with the Bible does not guarantee understanding of it, as I can testify from my experience of theological education at a liberal seminary. My New Testament professor carried a Bible as well thumbed as that of a believing Biblicist, but it had apparently done him little spiritual good. He told us of how he had become involved in New Testament study, not out of any reverence for the inspired Word, but because in college he had been introduced to the higher critical method of Bible study, and he had discovered that the exercise of trying to determine the origin of a saying in the gospels was intellectually stimulating. Trying to sift through what he saw as the different levels of tradition to determine whether a saying was original to Jesus or part of early church tradition or the invention of the gospel writer was an enjoyable mental challenge for him. He said that it gave him the same kind of satisfaction as solving a c

Illumination of the HS when the believer reads the Scriptures, part II

So here is another excellent quote from Fred Klooster on the illumination of the Holy Spirit and how it is inextricably tied with heart-understanding. Read it, and then read it again to make certain you didn't omit anything: The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit is a heart-rooted conviction that Scripture is the authoritative Word of God. Similarly, the continuing process of biblical interpretation in the process of sanctification should aim also at heart-understanding. Interpretation of Scripture involves much more than head-knowledge or the gaining of information, historical or other. That is why illumination is a continuing need. —Klooster, "The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Hermeneutical Process," in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible , ed. by Radmacher and Preus (Zondervan, 1984), 461-62.

Inclusio that is rhetorically important that some English versions omit.

In Psalm 62:7 David writes: עַל־אֱ֭לֹהִים יִשְׁעִ֣י וּכְבֹודִ֑י צוּר־עֻזִּ֥י מַ֝חְסִ֗י בֵּֽאלֹהִֽים׃ Translation: In God is my salvation and my glory; the Rock of my strength and my Refuge is in God. The original contains an inclusio that some English translations omit— אֱ֭לֹהִים ... אֱ֭לֹהִים (God...God). David declares in this psalm that God is his salvation (deliverance) and his glory (worth, sufficiency). Everything that we have or hope to be is to be found in God and God alone . He is the Rock of our strength and our impregnable fortress. He is strong. He is mighty. He is towering. He is powerful. And the rhetorical device encompassing this verse together is the repetition of "God" ( אֱ֭לֹהִים ). Thus, David's recognition of his salvation, glory, and protection is rightly grounded in the all-sufficient nature of God and God alone .

The Holy Spirit's role in the believer's biblical interpretation...

This week for my New Testament course, the topic of study is the Holy Spirit's role in our Bible interpretation. I'll be blogging periodically regarding my thoughts on this important aspect of hermeneutics. But to begin, I appreciate what Bernard Ramm notes as he speaks with reference to 2 Cor 4:3-4: The Text: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Ramm's Comment: When our minds are blinded by the god of this world, everything we read in the

God in three Persons, blessed Trinity—Ephesians 2.18

Ephesians 2:18, we read: Greek Text : ὅτι δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἔχομεν τὴν προσαγωγὴν οἱ ἀμφότεροι ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα. Translation : That through Him [Christ, Χριστοῦ [v.13]) we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. A wonderful reality from Ephesians 2:18 is that the Trinity is clearly seen as we find that Christ is the means by which we are able to have fellowship and access with God the Father. We both—in context this refers to both Jew and Gentile—have access to God through Christ. In other words, regardless of any kind of background whatsoever, those who are joined together and sealed by the Holy Spirit are joined together in unity in the body of Christ. And finally, by means of Christ and in the sphere of the Holy Spirit all believers have access (τὴν προσαγωγὴν) to the Father. This means that the only way God can be approached is by means of Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit uniting all true believers toge