Monday, January 18, 2010
Join me there and offer your thoughts.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Here are some thoughts from my study on the theme of Divine Warfare in the Bible, focusing on its culmination in the New Testament. Instead of putting all the documentation in for the quotes--from what was originally in footnotes--I will just tell you that most of the quotes will be from "Warfare" by Tremper Longman on page 835 of the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology and from An Old Testament Theology by Bruce Waltke. If you would like to know exactly where any of these quotes are taken, please let me know. It shouldn't be too academic, I found it to be very edifying.
Jesus is the ultimate divine warrior who, “won the greatest battle of all, not by killing but by dying.” What we find in the New Testament is a warfare that, as predicted by God’s prophets, moves its focus from political power and victory to warfare that is spiritual in nature and accomplishment. Jesus intensifies the divine battle, focusing his attention, “not on mere human evil, but on the spiritual powers and principalities.”
"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Matt. 3:11-12).
But, to John’s surprise, Jesus wages war with spiritual weapons; healing the sick, casting out demons, and preaching the Gospel. The divine warrior’s victory work was taking upon himself the violence of the cross, which Paul understands “in terms of warfare; he describes the death of Christ as disarming the powers and authorities (Col. 2:15), and the ascension of Christ as a victory parade with the prisoners of war in the victor’s train (Eph. 4:7-8, with a quotation from Ps. 68, a divine warrior hymn).” Again, in Waltke’s word’s, “Jesus does not aim to overthrow Rome but through his humiliation and death achieves a greater victory—he vanquishes sin and death.” Jesus’ work on the cross was an accomplishment in receiving the wrath of God in place of those who put their faith in Him. It was also an example for those he would gather into his Church, of what kind of warfare lay ahead of them, and how they should engage in it.
The advance of God’s kingdom through his church is not accomplished in the violent acts of its people. Instead, it progresses as it’s members, like Christ, “suffer for righteousness, and even though wronged, turn the other cheek to the oppressor’s blows (Matt. 5:3-10, 38-42).” This is demonstrated by the early persecuted church described by Luke in Acts. The war for the believer is also fought, “not with sword, spear and shield, but with spiritual weapons like faith, righteousness and the word of God (Eph. 6:10-18). indeed, the battle is not only outward; it is also in the heart, as indicated by a number of passages which describe believers’ struggles against evil remaining within (Rom. 7:7-25; 2 Cor. 10:1-6).”
According to passages like Mark 13:26—which says, “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory”—there is still anticipation in this age for more divine warfare to come. Even Jesus was looking forward to a certain future day when he would come in power. As Longman points out, “A second coming of Christ is anticipated and is most fully described in the book of Revelation, in which divine warrior language abounds.” Though the anticipation for a messiah who would be “smitten by God, and afflicted” and wounded for the transgressions of his people (Isaiah 53:4-5) was realized in Christ’s life death and resurrection, there is still the expectation of the Christ who will come with the fire, a winnowing fork in his hand, clearing the threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3:11-12). This moment of his return is described for us in Revelation 19:11-16, which, “describes the coming of Christ on a white horse with a sword coming from his mouth. He is followed by the armies of heaven as he ‘judges and makes war’ (v. 11).”
Saturday, October 17, 2009
"For, if we would be like angels in the pulpit, but subsequently would lead a licentious life and people would detect in our life nothing but contempt for God, that we were mockers and vain people, what would that communicate?"
"Those who proclaim the Word of God faithfully must therefore be listened to, as if God himself descends from heaven to the listeners."
"But we know that God considers nothing higher than His honor, and it consists especially in this, that people know Him and that poor souls are led to salvation. Let us, therefore, not be surprised when our Lord desires that His Gospel is proclaimed with so much zeal that nothing can prevent its course. For the only means by which people may be saved is to be instructed in the teaching of the Gospel."
Friday, October 16, 2009
This is a helpful guide for people who want to be a part of a solid church but aren't sure what to look for. It answers some of the questions of what a church should be about and what a healthy one looks like. If you are looking for a church, or want to look into what a church actually is, this is a good place to start. I would suggest confirming these propositions with scripture as well. It's also just encouraging to read through and be refreshed in your understanding of church ministry.
These points are taken from the 9Marks website (http://www.9marks.org/). FYI... Mark Dever is the President of 9Marks.
The Mission of 9Marks
We believe the local church is the focal point of God's plan for displaying his glory to the nations. Our vision is simple: Churches that reflect the character of God. Our mission is to cultivate and encourage churches characterized by these nine marks:
1. Expositional Preaching
This is preaching which expounds what Scripture says in a particular passage, carefully explaining its meaning and applying it to the congregation. It is a commitment to hearing God’s Word and to recovering the centrality of it in our worship.
2. Biblical Theology
Paul charges Titus to "teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Our concern should be not only with how we are taught, but with what we are taught. Biblical theology is a commitment to know the God of the Bible as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.
3. Biblical Understanding of the Good News
The gospel is the heart of Christianity. But the good news is not that God wants to meet people's felt needs or help them develop a healthier self-image. We have sinfully rebelled against our Creator and Judge. Yet He has graciously sent His Son to die the death we deserved for our sin, and He has credited Christ's acquittal to those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus' death and resurrection. That is the good news.
4. Biblical Understanding of Conversion
The spiritual change each person needs is so radical, so near the root of us, that only God can do it. We need God to convert us. Conversion need not be an emotionally heated experience, but it must evidence itself in godly fruit if it is to be what the Bible regards as a true conversion.
5. Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
How someone shares the gospel is closely related to how he understands the gospel. To present it as an additive that gives non-Christians something they naturally want (i.e. joy or peace) is to present a half-truth, which elicits false conversions. The whole truth is that our deepest need is spiritual life, and that new life only comes by repenting of our sins and believing in Jesus. We present the gospel openly, and leave the converting to God.
6. Biblical Understanding of Membership
Membership should reflect a living commitment to a local church in attendance, giving, prayer and service; otherwise it is meaningless, worthless, and even dangerous. We should not allow people to keep their membership in our churches for sentimental reasons or lack of attention. To be a member is knowingly to be traveling together as aliens and strangers in this world as we head to our heavenly home.
7. Biblical Church Discipline
Church discipline gives parameters to church membership. The idea seems negative to people today – “didn’t our Lord forbid judging?” But if we cannot say how a Christian should not live, how can we say how he or she should live? Each local church actually has a biblical responsibility to judge the life and teaching of its leaders, and even of its members, particularly insofar as either could compromise the church’s witness to the gospel.
8. Promotion of Christian Discipleship and Growth
A pervasive concern with church growth exists today – not simply with growing numbers, but with growing members. Though many Christians measure other things, the only certain observable sign of growth is a life of increasing holiness, rooted in Christian self-denial. These concepts are nearly extinct in the modern church. Recovering true discipleship for today would build the church and promote a clearer witness to the world.
9. Biblical Understanding of Leadership
What eighteenth-century Baptists and Presbyterians often agreed upon was that there should be a plurality of elders in each local church. This plurality of elders is not only biblical, but practical — it has the immense benefit of rounding out the pastor’s gifts to ensure the proper shepherding of God’s church.
In identifying and promoting these nine marks, we are not intending to lay down an exhaustive or authoritative list. There are other significant marks of healthy churches, like prayer and fellowship. We want to pursue those ourselves as well, and we want you to pursue them with us. But these nine are the ones we think are most neglected in most local churches today, with the most damaging ramifications. Join us in cultivating churches that reflect the character of God.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
With that in mind, I still want to bring out that classic youth group hypothetical challenge, “what if everyone in hear truly believed the truth that they are taught from scripture!” Lets just start with one truth that lays at the cornerstone of our Christian world view, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” This clause is most significant in light of John’s opening words in the book, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The word becoming flesh is referring to the man Jesus who lived and died in the near east early in the first century AD. Look at the this whole verse, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This truth is the truth about who Jesus was (or is). Jesus was a man. He is also God.
My challenge, as a person who calls himself Christian, is to be completely convinced of and compelled by this truth. If God really did take on a human body and was with us in this way in order to “bear witness to the truth,” to live the perfect life of obedience to God that we were supposed to live, to die the death that we were supposed to die, to rise again and sit at the right hand of God until he finally comes to earth again in all His glory and power to judge the earth revealing Gods wrath against all sin and making a new heaven and a new earth… If we believe all of this, and trust in it as that which brings us hope, then because of the substance of this truth, the Gospel, it will take precedence over everything else that we live for.
This means that the way I love my friend Mark, is by doing whatever is within my capacity to help him become a man who glorifies God, because according to our worldview that is defined by the Gospel, the thing that will make Mark eternally joyful is making much of God. That is what he was created for. The problem is that often I do not love Mark as I should, really because I fail to believe the Gospel as I should.
Lord we believe, but help our unbelief. You alone can lead us to life giving, hope breathing faith. We are dangerously forgetful, would you remind us of your truth and help us to trust and believe it.