Monday, November 23, 2009

Left Behind Alone In Your Bedroom!

Here's the introduction I scribbled together for GBC's public reading of II Thessalonians 2 for yesterday's Lord's Day service. We're trying to keep our explanations plain, short, and introductory:

In II Thessalonians chapter 2, Paul is writing to correct a false claim concerning the “Day of the Lord” [known as the Parousia] or the coming of Christ at the end of the age in power and glory. The false claim was that Christ had already returned, and the Thessalonians were really shaken up! In fact, word that is translated “shaken” in verse 2 is the same word that’s used in Acts 16:26 to describe the “great earthquake” in Philippi. So these Thessalonians were falsely alarmed that Christ had returned.

If you grew up in a Christian home like I did, perhaps you experienced the terror of waking up to find that your parents were gone! Your conclusion was that Jesus had come back and now you were left behind alone in your bedroom. When mom and dad did return, you were relieved to know that Christ hadn’t returned. In fact, Bob and Doris [mom and dad] were standing in the doorway of your bedroom at 19 Sennet Drive.

So perhaps we can understand the great sense of relief the Thessalonians experienced to know that the “Day of the Lord” had not occurred – relearning what they had heard before [v. 5]: that prior to the Parousia a rebellion must come first [v.3], followed by the revealing of the man of lawlessness [also referred to as the son of destruction or perdition] "who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship."

So, in fact, the Thessalonians hadn’t been left behind, and Paul encourages them to stand firm, giving thanks for them that they’ve been chosen of God to be saved through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in truth. He ends with a precious benediction of love, and comfort and good hope through grace.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Connie, the less I know about you, the more I love you!"

We don’t sing over and over again, “Let us love and sing and wonder” – or maybe shuffle the words around singing endlessly, “Let us wonder and love and sing.” No, we love, and sing, and wonder because, as the song goes on to say, the law’s loud thunder has been hushed in Christ, and we delight in the Son who gives us light. So let’s not sing passionately about how we feel about God for no particular reason.

If my wife Connie asks me, “David, Why do you love me?” – and I say, “No reason particularly because I’m learning that the less I know about you the more I’ll love you – so lets keep our praise of each other vague like, ‘Your awesome!’ or how about ‘I praise you!' In fact, I don't even need to mention your name at all."

If I said that, I might deservedly get my you know what kicked off the porch of our yellow raised ranch house on White Birch Road. Because the truth is that the more I intimately know Connie, the more I’ll intimately love her. How much more our union with Christ. It’s what we rightly know about God, not what we don’t, that inspires greater heights of love for God in Christ. So, Father we want you to satisfy us early in the morning with your steadfast love – so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

When Were We Regenerated?

Question: When Were We Regenerated?
Answer: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

christians in the world: double listening, spiritual not spatial separation, and contextualization

Let me encourage you to pick up a copy of Tullian Tchividjian's, Unfashionable: making a difference in the world by being different [2009] published by Multnomah Books.

In chapter 8, entitled “Where in the World are Christians?”, Tchividjian explains that Christians should be people of what he calls "double listening," both listening to the world's questions and answering them from the Word. Tullian quotes Abraham Kuyper's famous line, "There is not one square inch in the entire domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, 'mine!'" So as God's "agents" of accomplishing the cultural mandate [fill, increase, be fruitful, and subdue], "we must not withdraw from the world but rather bring the standards of God's Word to bear on every dimension of human culture."

This means being "spiritually separate" without becoming "spatially separate." The mistake that modern fundamentalism made was one of "cultural retreat." Fundamentalists have seen the problem as not "in here" [in our sinful nature] but "out there." This gives rise to a kind of "self-righteousness and radical withdraw." Of course Tchividjian explains that a new kind of withdraw is seen when "traditional places of worship [turn] into sprawling campuses--cities within cities. Many churches now have their own restaurants, nightclubs, exercise programs, and yellow pages, running the risk of abandoning contact with the world." Tullian comments, "Jesus didn't invite the world to come to church; he directed the church to go into the world [John 17:18; John 17:15; Matthew 28]." Salt cannot preserve what it does not touch. Light cannot illuminate what is not dark. Tullian writes, "When we operate according to the idea "If we build it, they will come," we fail to take into account this distinct nature of new covenant ministry and mission. Instead we're called to operate with this mind-set: 'God is building: therefore we should go.'"

So we should contextualize, that is that we should be "giving people God's answers [which they may not want] to the questions they're really asking and in ways they can understand." It's here Tullian quotes Tim Keller: "To overcontextualize to a new generation means you can make an idol out of their culture, but to undercontextualize to a new generation means you can make an idol of the culture you come from." Tullian summarizes the chapter: "Instead of being culturally removed on the one hand or culturally relaxed on the other, we should seek to be culturally resistant. We're making contact with the world while colliding with its ways. We're culturally engaged without being culturally absorbed. We're to maintain a dissonant relationship to the world without isolating ourselves from it."

Great book! My prayer is that GBC will be a congregation of readers, reading the Bible first but reading widely so that we might "bring the standard of God's Word to bear on every dimension of human culture."