Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm adding these to my list of God's perfections as seen in Christ

I'm adding these to my list of God's perfections as seen in Christ -- nearness, might, salvation, joy, gladness, love, and exultation with loud singing over His people: "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love, he will exult over you with loud singing" [Zephaniah 3:17].

classic religious syncretism

classic religious syncretism: “And I will cut off the name of the idolatrous priests, those who bow down on the roofs to the hosts of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by Milcom” [Zephaniah 1:5].

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Endless Happiness"

“He was Lord of the world, but did not come into to it to exercise dominion, nor, as the Jews expected, to procure their temporal redemption and restore the kingdom to Israel. He came not to make his followers rich and honorable, fortunate or conspicuous in the world. But He came to deliver His people from everlasting destruction, from the captivity of sin, and to teach them how, by a holy life, they might obtain an endless happiness. In a word, Christ came into the world to advance the glory of God and the happiness of the earth by restoring us to the favor of our Maker, and a conformity to Him And certainly, if we have any sense of the evil of sin or the misery of hell, of the beauty of holiness or the glory of heaven, it must be a matter of great joy to celebrate the birth of Him who delivers us from the one and gives us assurance of the other. Henry Scougal [1650-1678] The Nativity of Our Savior

Trusting in what we make and see as the object and attractive power of our “creative” worship?

"For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols." Habbakuk 2:18.

Do we worship worship? Are we trusting in what we make and see as the object and attractive power of our “creative” worship? Perhaps not like Babylonians who worshipped false gods, but more like syncretistic Israelites who worshipped the true God falsely.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nahum and the magnificent range of God's perfections

“Wrath” and “refuge” – Wow, Nahum captures the magnificent range of God’s perfections – “His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble. He knows those who take refuge in him.”

As Edwards puts it, what an "admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies."

"She is not lost to you who is found in Christ"

"All the brethren and sisters of Christ must conform to His image and copy in suffering [Romans 8:29]. And some do more lively resemble the copy than others . . . Ye have lost a child: nay she is not lost to you who is found to Christ. She is not sent away, but only sent before, like unto a star, which going out of our sight doth not die and vanish, but shineth in another hemisphere. Ye see her not, yet she doth shine in another country."

Samuel Rutherford [1600-1661] to the Elect and Noble Lady, my Lady Kenjiuke, on occasion of the death of her infant daughter [Tribulation the portion of God's people, and intended to wean them from the world.]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"The incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ"

This is the season for marveling at the Father’s sending the Son into the world [John 17:18] in a body that the Father has prepared for the Son [Hebrews 10:5] so that the Son might accomplish the works the Father has given to Him [John 5:36], namely the saving of His people from their sins [Matthew 1:21]. We believe, like the university creed I grew up with puts it, “in the incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

This season is not only for marveling at the good news of the Son’s saving His people from their sins, but of the Father’s promise, “the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son” [Romans 1:1-3] – and of the Spirit’s declaring Jesus “to be the Son of God in power according the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” [Romans 1:4].

The Father promises, the Son descends by condescending to become David’s offspring according to the flesh, and the Son is declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness.

So we ponder in our hearts the glory of the Trinity’s saving work – “Laud and honor to the Father, / Laud and honor to the Son, / Laud and honor to the Spirit, / Ever Three and ever One, / One in might, and One in glory, while unending praises run.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Anticipating Tomorrow's Lord's Day Table

The Lord’s Day Table corporate worship services are high days for our church. Many of us have become accustomed to the Lord’s Table merely being tacked on to the end of a worship service. At Grace, we desire to see and savor and linger over what Christ’s death has accomplished for His people. So we set aside the entire day for the enjoyment of remembering and treasuring the cross. In remembering Christ’s death, we should experience a kind of broken-hearted joy together – sorrow in remembering the suffering of Christ’s becoming sin for us who knew no sin, but joy in knowing and feeling that in His becoming sin for us, we became the righteousness of God in Him. So with broken-hearted joy, let’s enjoy every moment of this service together!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"We just believe the Bible"

Every church believes and confesses something about the Bible. It's just that some churches don't write down what they confess about the Bible, or what they confess in writing about the Bible is vague and sketchy. They risk not being accountable to anyone for what they believe, and/or falling into insufficient or false teaching. Saying that you believe the Bible isn't enough. Many false religions say that.

Benjamin Keach's Catechism Questions 100-104 on Baptism [1677]

Question 1oo: What is Baptism?
Answer: Baptism is a holy ordinance, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, signifies our ingrafting into Christ, and our partaking of his benefits, and our engagement to be the Lord’s. [Matt. 28:19; Romans 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27]

Question 101: To whom is Baptism to be administered?
Answer: Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ; and to none other. [Acts 2:38; Matt. 3:6; Mark 16:16; Acts 8: 12, 36; Acts 10:47-48]

Question 1o2: Are the infants of such as are professing believers to be baptized?
Answer: The infants of such as are professing believers are not to be baptized; because there is neither command nor example in the Holy Scriptures, or certain consequence from them, to baptize such.

Question 103: How is Baptism rightly administered?
Answer: Baptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the person in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. [Matt. 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38-39]

Question 104: What is the duty of those who are rightly baptized?
Answer: It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up [join] themselves to some visible and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. [Acts 2:46-47; Acts 9:26; I Peter 2:5; Heb. 10:25; Romans 16:5]

"Join together the whole structure, growing into a holy temple in the Lord"

Our joy-filled desire at Grace is to build a body. That is, our desire is not ultimately to subdivide our church into numerous "smaller churches" based on age or race or a thousand other ways we could divide ourselves. Rather, we desire to join together the whole structure “in Christ,” being joined together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord [Ephesians 2:21].

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Reason To Believe

This quote is from R.C Sproul's book: A Reason to Believe. I am rejoicing today that GBC is full of sinners! What a gracious Lord we serve.

What happens is that people observe church members sinning. They reason within themselves, “That person professes to be a Christian. Christians aren’t supposed to sin. That person is sinning; therefore, he is a hypocrite.” The unspoken assumption is that a Christian is one who claims he does not sin. It reality just the opposite is the case. For a Christian to be a Christian, he must first be a sinner. Being a sinner is a prerequisite for being a church member. The Christian church is one of the few organizations in the world that requires a public acknowledgment of sin as a condition for membership. In one sense the church has fewer hypocrites than any institution because by definition the church is a haven for sinners. If the church claimed to be an organization of perfect people then her claim would be hypocritical. But no such claim is made by the church. There is no slander in the charge that the church is full of sinners. Such a statement would only compliment the church for fulfilling her divinely appointed task.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"will not pass away"

Even in the face of “earthquake” [Luke 21:11] and “famine” [v. 11] and “pestilence” [v. 11] and “terrors” [v. 11] and “imprisonment” [v. 12] and “persecution” [v.12] and “adversity” [v. 15] and “death” [v. 16] and “hatred” [v. 17] and “desolation” [v. 20] and “distress” [v. 23] and “perplexity” [v. 25] and “fainting with fear” [v. 26] and “fear” and “foreboding” and “shaking” [v. 26] –

Even in the face of all of this, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” [v. 33].

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Enslaved by whatever people want to call corporate worship

If the Bible is not the standard when we worship corporately, we risk becoming enslaved by whatever "privatized spiritual experiences" a group of people may want to call corporate worship. We may flirt with idolatry, if the Bible is assented to but muted, or make idols of the people or things that have taken its place. Doc

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Psalm 1: Coverdale [1535] Sprowls [2009]. The timeless is always relevant.

I loved reading and singing Psalm 1 this morning. Amazing! 16th century translation joined with a 21st century metrical psalm version. The timeless is always relevant. Great times today! Man, the piano sounds sweet!

Coverdale's Translation:

Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, and hath not sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law will he exercise himself day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the waterside, that will bring forth his fruit in due season. His leaf also shall not wither; and look, whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper. As for the ungodly, it is not so with them; but they are like the chaff, which the wind scattereth away from the face of the earth. Therefore the ungodly shall not be able to stand in the judgment, neither the sinners in the congregation of the righteous. But the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; and the way of the ungodly shall perish. [1535]

And Zach's metrical version:

1.Bless'd is the man who does not walk / In wicked ones' deceit / Nor does he stand in sinner's way / Nor sits in scoffer's seat

2. And he does not delight in sin / But in God's righteous law / Where day and night it is his joy / To ponder all day long

3.The blessed man is like a tree / Who by the streams is found / His fruit is ripe, his leaf is strong / And all he does abounds

4. The wicked are not like the bless'd / Who firmly planted are / But like the chaff that blows away / To places near and far

5. .Therefore the wicked will not stand / There on the judgment day / Nor sinners with the righteous ones / Who prospered in God's ways

6. For God is just and knows all things / He will reward us all / The righteous will be bless'd by God / But wicked ones will fall [2009]

Yesterday Morning's Outreach!

We had a great time yesterday morning inviting our community friends to visit Grace. God will give the increase. We delight in being faithful goers, in opening our mouths to speak of Christ. We scatter the seed, then simply go to sleep. God will give the increase. Entertaining the goats will not turn goats into sheep. They’ll simply remain “entertained goats.” The faithful proclamation of the gospel is the only divine remedy for a sinful heart. We do not lose heart. God is bringing great glory to Himself, using us as His means! “Great things He has done!” Pastor Doc

Monday, August 23, 2010

Preaching law, not grace"

"To preach devotion first, and blessing second, is to reverse God's order, and preach law, not grace. The Law made man's blessing depend on devotion; Grace confers undeserved unconditional blessing; our devotion may follow, but does not always do so--in proper measure." William R. Newell [1868-1956]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is "a new song" new music?

"New song is not new music. In many ways it's just a synonym for the gospel." Scotty Smith, Christ Community Church

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Great Commission and Christian Singing

"Making-disciples-by teaching" [Matthew 28:20] is the goal of Christian congregational singing [Colossians 3:16]. Christian singing is the teaching and correcting word of Christ spoken together in song to one another. It's corporately and joyfully didactic." Doc's Journal 8/18/10

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Praying With Your Bible Open: The Practice of Biblically Saturated Prayer in Public and Private

Sermon Outline
Luke 11:1-13
August 15, 2010

“Praying With Your Bible Open: The Practice of Biblically Saturated Prayer in Public and Private.”

I. The foundation [or “divine direction”] for Biblically saturating the practice of public and private prayer [Luke 11:1-13]
*The divine revelation from Jesus concerning the practice of prayer [vv. 1-4] so that his people might increasingly respond derivatively and dependently [v. 2 “When you pray, say”] and persistently [vv. 5-13] in prayer.

II. The dilemma of not Biblically saturating the practice of public and private prayer.
*The dilemma in prayer and worship [public and private] is that our response to God is often not shaped by the Word of God [Acts 4:24-26, 29].

III. The delight of Biblically saturating the practice of public and private prayer.
*Praying the Bible with an emphasis on the prayers of the Bible.
Herbert Lockyer, All the Prayers of the Bible [1959]
Prayers of the Bible: With Their Answers [1855] Collected by a Church Member published by A.S. Barnes & Company [google books]

*Learning from others who help us to practice praying the Bible. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotionals [1975]

*Singing the Bible as prayer.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

more derivative and dependent than innovative and independent

Prayer, if I'm reading Luke 11:2-4 correctly ["Pray like this"], is more derivative and dependent than innovative and independent. Prayers are our words and thoughts conforming themselves more and more to God’s Word as we progressively become more conformed into the image of Christ. Doc from Sunday's Sermon, Praying With Your Bible Open: The Practice of Biblically Saturated Praying in Public and Private [8.15.10.].

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On the necessity of Public Pastoral Prayer

I'm really excited about gathering together for prayer tonight. There is a kind of holy safety and quieting comfort that comes from a desire desire to devote oneself to the public gathering of the local church for prayer [Acts 2:42]. In preparation for our gathering I was reading Stuart Olyott's little work entitled, Reading the Bible and Praying in Public. It's only 22 pages; however these are rich meditations. He writes:

"We have grossly over-estimated the prayer life of our people. Countless numbers of brothers and sisters hardly pray at all. We can stir up their appetite. If our public prayers draw them into glory, and leave them with ravished souls, they will want to pray more and better." Stuart Olyott on the necessity of Public Pastoral Prayer

Hope to pray with many of you tonight!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hearing One Another

One of the implications of Christians speaking to one another while they are singing [Colossians 3:16] is that they hear one another. Christian singing is like a conversation. We may be speak the same words, but we're speaking those words intelligibly to each other as we admonish ourselves in love, peace, thanksgiving, wisdom, and in the name of the Lord Jesus. If the accompaniment overpowers the singing of God's people, than the Christian conversation becomes difficult to hear, and the encouragement that comes from clearly hearing brothers and sisters around them communicating with them lessens. So let's not take our cues for congregational singing from the culture. Attending a loud concert is one thing. It's the performance of a group on a stage not meant to accompany singers. That's cool for Montage Mountain on a Saturday Night. But the corporate singing of God's people on the Lord's Day is something quite different and absolutely unique to the Church. Doc's Journal, August 8, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010


Paul doesn't pray that his brothers and sisters love indiscriminately. Rather he prays that their love would abound [Philippians 1:26 "abundant rejoicing"] with increasing knowledge and discernment. So "love" and "thanksgiving" and "joy" and "fellowship" and "longing" are not at odds with "knowledge" and "discernment" and "the defense and confirmation of the gospel." For the Christian, they're inseparable.

Friday, May 21, 2010

very cinematic!

the story of hushai, ahithophel, and absalom -- o man, very cinematic! civil war, intrigue, espionage, and suicide. but the real story transcends these mere details for the purpose of telling us of God: "For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom" ...[II Samuel 17:14]. How do we read the OT?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

praying in Philadelphia for this morning's outreach in Dalton

Connie and I are in Philadelphia for one of my student's wedding this afternoon, and I know that in a little more than an hour some of you will be inviting our neighbors to GBC and perhaps telling them the gospel story of Jesus and His love.

So I want you to know that I'm praying for you -- praying that our gospel boldness will increase and that more and more others will become a part of the body God is building at Grace!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A note to a friend

Today I sent this note along to a friend. I thought it might be helpful for us as it relates to the texts we sing together:

"Thanks! It is easy to love a song [nothing wrong with that necessarily] or love a style [and that’s ok] too much – so much that the listener becomes lulled into suspending judgment [critical discernment] of the text.

And there are instances where there’s nothing wrong with a text, but because it’s not placed as an anthem of praise after strong teaching texts [like a dessert], or it’s what’s become a steady diet for the people, the song, without containing error, becomes unhelpful – not for what it says, but rather for what it doesn’t."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

undoing the "ministry" mindset

1. This is how Colin taught us to think about ministry.
2. Marshall and Payne [The Trellis and the Vine] have written it down.
3. Our people at GBC are being changed by it.
4. I read this and rejoiced!

“Imagine a reasonably solid Christian said to you after church one Sunday morning, 'Look, I'd like to get more involved here and make a contribution, but I feel like there's nothing for me to do. I'm not on the ‘inside’; I don't get asked to be on committees or lead Bible studies. What can I do?’

What would you immediately think or say? Would you start thinking of some event or program about to start that they could help with? Some job that needed doing? Some ministry that they could join or support?

This is how we are used to thinking about the involvement of church members in congregational life--in terms of jobs and roles: usher, Bible study leader, Sunday School teacher, treasurer, elder, musician, song leader, money counter, and so on. The implication of this way of thinking for congregational members is clear: if all the jobs and roles are taken, then there's really nothing for me to do in this church. I'm reduced to being a passenger. I'll just wait until I'm asked to ‘do something’. The implication for the pastoral staff is similar: getting people involved and active means finding a job for them to do. In fact, church growth gurus say that giving someone a job to do within the first six months of their joining your church is vital for them to feel like they belong.

However, if the real work of God is people work--the prayerful speaking of his word by one person to another--then the jobs are never all taken. The opportunities for Christians to minister personally to others are limitless.

So you could pause, and reply to your friend, ‘See that guy sitting over there on his own? That’s Julie’s husband. He’s on the fringe of things here; in fact, I’m not sure whether he’s crossed the line yet and become a Christian. How about I introduce you to him, and you arrange to have breakfast with him once a fortnight [14 days] and read the Bible together? Or see that couple over there? They are both fairly recently converted, and really in need of encouragement and mentoring. Why don’t you and your wife have them over, get to know them, and read and pray together once a month? And if you still have time, and want to contribute some more, start praying for the people in your street, and then invite them all to a barbeque at your place. That’s the first step towards talking with them about the gospel, or inviting them along to something.’

Of course there’s every chance that the person will then say, ‘But I don’t know how to do those things! I’m not sure I’d know what to say or where to start.’

To which you reply, ‘Oh that’s okay. Let’s start meeting together, and I can train you.’”
Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, The Trellis and the Vine, pp. 26-27

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"astonished with admiration"

It's 10:50 p.m. and I having a good time putting the finishing touches on our worship folder for tomorrow's Lord's Day service! Today has been a great day. The work day at the church accomplished not only getting things done, but getting things done together as a body. Sweet fellowship!

And I'm excited about reading Psalm 8 tomorrow morning as our call to worship. I thought I'd share with you how the 1599 Geneva Bible introduces the psalm. Awesome summary!

"The Prophet [II Samuel 23:2; Acts 2:30] considering the excellent liberality and Fatherly providence of God toward man, whom he made as it were a god over all his works, doth not only give great thanks, but is astonished with the admiration of the same, as one nothing able to compass such great mercies."

What a Christian sermon is not

Zach, one of our church music graduates at BBC, posted this from Graeme Goldsworthy. My response is below the Graeme's thoughts. I'm not sure hyperbole was what Paul was after when he wrote to the Corinthians -- "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testiomony of God with lofty speech or widsom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

Here's Goldsworthy's quote and my response to Zach's posting it:

From Zach:
Any sermon, then, that aims to apply the biblical text to the congregation and does so without making it crystal clear that it is in Christ alone and through Christ alone that the application is realized, is not a Christian sermon. It is at best an exercise in wishful and pietistic thinking. It is at worst demonic in ...its Christ-denying legalism." Graeme Goldsworthy

From Doc:
AMEN BROTHER ZACH! Did the capitalization of the first sentence heighten the effect? Preaching minus an application realized “through Christ and in Christ alone” turns the grace of Christ’s making us righteous into the law of our “trying harder” or “doing better” to make ourselves righteous. It’s defeating and confusing for believers, and leaves unbelievers believing they somehow can please God by what they do rather than trusting alone in what Christ has done in His person and work as seen and savored in the gospel.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A word of thanks to GBC for T4G!

For all of us from GBC who attended the Together for the Gospel conference last week – thank you for your partnership in the gospel for making it possible for us to attend! My prayer is that the truth that we enjoyed will get spread around our church in numerous ways.

We were reminded that there is but one true gospel, and that to ignore “blatantly false” or “seductively revised” gospels is to ignore our obligation to “guard the good deposit” and “contend for the faith” and “adhere to the pattern of sound words.” This vigilance, we were reminded, was Paul’s vigilance, as he warned fledgling local churches of false teachers who would arise within the Christian community attempting to improve “the” gospel that can’t be improved upon.

We were reminded that it’s not our job to try to save Christianity for relevance. The gospel is always relevant. Our job, as John MacArthur taught us, is to sow the seed and go to sleep. “The wonder of the gospel is this: you sow the seed, you go to sleep, and it grows [Mark 4:27] . . . The thinking that more persuasive words and ingenuity result in more conversions inevitably result in adjusting and eventually corrupting the Gospel.”

We’ve got a great thing going here at Grace! I was mightily encouraged that we’re doing what God “in Christ” has called us to do.

And, by the way, how cool was it to hear 7,000 men and women sing hymns and songs accompanied by Bob Kauflin with only a piano. The human voices really rocked. Bob had all the songs written out in four parts. It was really amazing to hear human voices singing loudly theologically helpful texts and good tunes. So as Al Mohler put it, “to love Christ is to cherish and contend for Christ’s gospel.” So GBC, let’s continue to be faithful!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rapture Insurance...(for your pet!)

This is for all the members at Grace who have pets! I wonder if this is joke perpetrated by R.C Sproul upon unsuspecting dispy's?!? You will have to decide. Thanks to David Boyles for the link.

The Cross

Our brother Kim wrote this poem in response to our preaching text this past Sunday : 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. I thought you would enjoy reflecting upon it.

The Cross

Jesus Christ the Son of God
Made His way to tread the road
Of sinners and of the dead,
Bore the cross until the end.

Bitter cup had He to drink
So God’s wrath in Him would sink;
If it were the Sovereign will
Let it be on Calv’ry hill.

Shameful pain on cruel cross,
Spilled out blood I thought it gross;
But it’s what washed all my sins,
Holy Son for hopeless souls.

Mocking mars on fairest Face,
Dropping sweats gave no solace;
His Father did forsake Him
Life Giver, died He for me/Kim.

Then they buried His body
And leaving the cross empty;
But death couldn’t hold His power,
He rose to live forever.

At the cross He crushed my pride,
None could I then from Him hide;
With my all I asked His grace,
Pardon from Him I embrace.

Copyright@Lian Muan Kim

So what's wrong with proclaiming the gospel as "a personal relationship with God?"

How I've enjoyed hearing the public testimonies these past months from our new members! They've been great. Which is why I feel at ease to encourage us to keep using Biblical language as we proclaim not ourselves but the person and work of Christ.

Michael Horton in his book The Gospel-driven Life, helps us by identifying 3 popular misconceptions of the gospel which, as he writes, "share in common a tendency to identify salvation [hence the gospel] with our own experience of conversion rather than with the news of Christ's objective work in history." Here's Horton:

Misconception # 1: "A personal relationship with God"

"Nowhere do we find the apostles proclaiming the gospel as an invitation to have a personal relationship with God. After all, they presupposed that everyone has a personal relationship with God already. In fact, our major problem is that we do have a relationship with God: the relationship of a guilty defendant before a just judge.

Offering the gospel as a personal relationship with God assumes that one is currently in a neutral situation, lacking the joy of knowing God. Or perhaps, if not neutral, this condition is thought of in terms of separation, a breaking off of communication. However, we have seen that all people know God and suppress this truth in unrighteousness. Our problem is not that we are not on speaking terms with God [or vice versa], but that God is declaring his righteousness and we are shaking our fist in his face.

As Paul points out in Ephesians 2:1-9, the problem that the gospel addresses is that fact that we are born into the world 'dead in trespasses and sins,' 'children of wrath,' and enemies of God.
So the gospel does not offer the possibility of a personal relationship with God, but announces a different relationship with God based on Christ. Instead of enemies, we have been reconciled through Christ's sacrifice [Romans 5:8-11]. 'Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ'" [Romans 5:1].”

Michael Horton, The Gospel-driven Life [2009]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Replacing the substance of Christ with the shadows of method and technique: a facebook post to a friend

Yeah, I'm really tired of worship wars, if that means getting worked up over a particular style of music that might be used in expressing theological truth. At BBC, we “rock” and “folk” and do all kinds of stylistic settings of theological texts. My point is that legalism, which could be well defined from Matthew 15 as teaching as doctrine the commandments of men, has many faces. Our hearts are idol factories, desperately wicked – unknowably so. And so to worship the waiter, whether the waiter is contemporary or traditional forms, and miss the meal is dangerous. I grew up experiencing what I consider to be, in some respects, traditional legalism. And from the trendy legalism side, just read [I won’t mention names] current church growth literature. It seems like they’re often telling us that that if we don’t incorporate what is the latest church growth business method, our churches will die. Now there may be some helpful ideas in the literature but, good grief, “Salvation is of the Lord.” And that’s where the substance of Christ can easily get replaced with the shadows of method and technique. And I say this ultimately for my sake, for I am at the same time a forgiven and recovering Pharisee. Have you read John MacArthur’s, Ashamed of the Gospel? I just purchased the 2010 update. David Wells’, The Courage to be Protestant is another excellent read that deals insightfully with many of the ideas we’re conversing about.


Monday, February 15, 2010

"Worshipping our greater and more perfect tent not made with hands"

This morning I read 18 times in two chapters [Exodus 39-40] that God’s people prepared for God’s worship "as the LORD had commanded Moses." And the result of their obedience to his command was the reestablishment of God’s dwelling with man – the glory of LORD filling and settling on the tabernacle.

So how do we as the people of God on this side of the cross worship from the heart as the Lord has commanded us? The answer for us is rooted in gospel worship – the worship of Christ, our “greater and more perfect tent not made with hands” [Hebrews 9:11].

“How much more, since Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” [Hebrews 9:14].

"Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!" Praise our Word that was made flesh and “tabernacled” among us [John 1:14]!

Friday, February 12, 2010

“So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God . . . In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" [Matthew 15:6, 9].

Trendy legalism enslaves worshippers to the bondage of evangelical cultural coolness. It doesn't feel like bondage because we think we've freed ourselves from the shackles of traditional legalism. But really, we've just replaced one kind of legalism for another. I call it reverse legalism.

May the substance always be Christ!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Psalm 133
A Song of Ascents, of David.

1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
2It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron's beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
3It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing--life forever.

On this past Lord’s Day we sang together Psalm 133 set to the same tune as the hymn Amazing Grace. As I sang I realized that I was singing with my mouth but not with my mind. What was I supposed to make of oil running down Aaron’s beard? And what is special about dew from Mr. Hermon? Mount Hermon? So in keeping with Jonathan Edwards commitment to never allowing himself to pass over anything in Scripture that he did not understand, but to stop and search it out, I thought I should do the same in regard to Psalm 133. Here is what I found.

Psalm 133 is a song of David that many speculate was written at the time he was finally installed as king at Hebron over all Israel. In order to adequately describe his feelings of joy and peace at the reuniting of the nation, David draws upon two rich poetic images to help us see and feel his joy.

The first image David draws upon is that of the fragrant sweet smelling incense that was poured all over the head of Aaron and spilled down upon his beard and robe when he was anointed High Priest. His anointing was a public act that was part of the process in setting him apart as high priest before the Lord. The oil was symbolic of the fact that the people’s advocate was not just acceptable before the Lord, but a pleasing fragrance to Him. I think what David is saying here is that brotherly love and unity is a fragrant aroma ascending to the Lord and pleasing Him.

The second image is that of Mt. Hermon. At 9,200 feet it has the distinction of being the tallest mountain within the borders of ancient Israel. Most every picture you see of Mt. Hermon will show snow covering its three rounded peaks. During hot summer months cool refreshing streams of water and drafts of cold air flow down this mountain and refresh the dry arid ground below. David says that harmony and unity among brothers is just like those cool flowing breezes that descend down Mt. Hermon; it is wonderfully and joyfully refreshing.

Armed with this knowledge, may I suggest at profitable Bible study. Try looking up in your concordance every other occurrence of Mount Hermon in the Bible and see where it might lead you or what it might teach you. Let me know what you find!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A "god" of our own making?

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM' [Exodus 3:14]. In other words, God is telling us that He will not be ‘defined or determined by anything other than Himself’ [RSB]. This is why we don’t want to risk worshipping God without Biblical definition—a "god" of our own making rather than the God who has defined and determined Himself to us in His word.” Doc’s Journal, February 1

Friday, January 22, 2010

Who's the Story About?

It’s unfortunate that we’ve taught children that the great heroes of the Bible stories are ultimately men and women – when these great men women are there to teach us first and foremost who God is. It's natural for us to "exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man" [Romans 1:23]. And it's natural for us to elevate ourselves from the best supporting actor category to the best actor category where God alone deserves to be the only nominee. So when we read the stories of the Bible, it's foundational for those of us in Christ to see the God-centeredness of God saturating the narratives of Scripture.

I mean it's eye-catching, for example in Genesis 41, that Pharaoh dreams of 7 plump and attractive cows who are eaten by 7 thin and ugly cows, all standing on the banks of the Nile. There's also sort of a movie-like action picture thrill we experience when discovering that Pharaoh's baker is hanged while his cup-bearer is saved from walking the Green Mile.

But these interesting but ancillary details are directing us to God who "oversees the course of human action to achieve His good and set purpose [RSB, p. 81].

Notice that the purpose of Genesis 41 is ultimately about getting us to see God Himself:

41:16 "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer."

41:25 "God has revealed to Pharaoh . . ."

41:32 " . . . the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about."

41:39 "Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has shown you all this, [see now even Pharaoh is getting the point] there is none so discerning and wise as you are."

41:51 "Jospeh called the name of his firstborn Manasseh. 'For,' he said, 'God has made me forget all my hardship.'"

41:52 "The name of the second he called Ephraim, 'For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."

In his book, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, Graeme Goldsworthy writes:

“That the Bible is first and foremost a book about God as he reveals himself in Jesus Christ means that the preacher must be absolutely scrupulous in making this clear. The further away from a gospel-oriented mindset people are, the harder it will be to motivate them to listen to the exposition of God’s word. Thus we frequently begin by ‘scratching where it itches.’ We start with a commonly felt need or problem, which may be anything from low self-esteem to animal rights or global warming. There is nothing wrong with such an approach, and, indeed, it may be necessary is some situations. But unless the problem is redefined by the gospel, we are in danger of reducing the Christian message to a pragmatic one of helping us feel better or make the world a better place to live in."

May we see more and more and preach and teach our children more and more that the great men and women of the Bible are there to teach us first and foremost who God is. Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Stunning, disarming, overwhelming"

Brothers and Sisters,

I'm really enjoying Alister McGrath's history of Protestantism. Here's an excerpt, in hopes that you might read it.

“Luther found when Paul . . . speaks of the ‘righteousness of God’ being revealed in the gospel, he does not mean that we are told what standards of righteousness we must meet in order to be saved. Rather we are confronted with the stunning, disarming, overwhelming declaration that God himself provides the righteousness required for salvation as a free, unmerited gift. God’s love is not conditional upon transformation; rather, personal transformation follows divine acceptance.” Alister McGrath, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution—A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First [2007]