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Archive for January, 2008

Everybody has a worldview. We may not know how to articulate it, but we do have beliefs that determine our view of this world and life. Ronald Nash in his introduction to philosophy titled, Life’s Ultimate Questions notes that there are at least five components to a worldview:
1. What one believes about God (theology)
2. What one believes about reality (metaphysics)
3. What one believes about truth and how we know truth (epistemology)
4. What one believes about right and wrong (ethics)
5. What one believes about humanity (anthropology)

As we study Genesis 1-11, we see that Moses is laying out the biblical worldview for the children of Israel about to enter into the promised land. We too can learn much about the biblical worldview for our day from Genesis 1-11. We have already seen what the Bible teaches about God and about the created reality in which we live.

On Sunday morning we considered what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God. One’s view of humanity will determine the way he or she approaches certain issues: beginning and end of life issues, self-worth, discrimination, etc.

Since we are created in the image and likeness of God, all human beings are people worthy of dignity and respect and all human life is worthy of defense. Since January 22, was the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I want especially to consider the implications of our creation in the image of God to the abortion debate.

In Genesis 9:6, God told Noah that if someone takes another persons’ life, then that person forfeits their life BECAUSE God has made man in His image. In other words, the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God gives human life special value – all human life, regardless of age or health, and including unborn human life.

I want to point out two websites for your consideration in light of our responsibility to protect and defend the sanctity of human life:

Abort73.com

The ABBA Fund – Uniting families through interest-free, covenant loans for adoption

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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As we approach the doctrines of man and sin in our study of Genesis 1-11, I want to HIGHLY recommend Anthony Hoekema’s, Created in God’s Image. I have not found a better, more clear, biblical treatment that is accessible to students of the Bible than this work.

I re-read the portions related to the doctrine of man in preparing this week’s message, and I will pick it up again when we get to Genesis 3, and address the doctrine of sin.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Jan
26

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

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As I was studying Genesis this week, I came across a trailer for Ben Stein’s documentary titled, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It is an expose of how neo-Darwinian influenced institutions are seeking to silence scientists whose research would question Darwinian evolution.

Click on Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed to see various trailers. I would highly recommend viewing the “super trailer” in order to gain a better understanding of what the documentary is trying to accomplish. It is due out in February of this year.

If you would like to read for yourself how the theory of evolution is crumbling within the scientific community, then I would recommend the following books:

Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson

Evolution: A Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Bob Kauflin announced on the Worship Matters blog today that during the month of February, Sovereign Grace Ministries is selling all their CDs for $6.00 and their books for $5.00. Here’s what he had to say:

“The bottom line is this. From February 1 through February 29, Sovereign Grace will be selling all our CDs for six dollars. With free shipping. In addition, we’ll be selling our Pursuit of Godliness books for five dollars, also with free shipping. Of course you can download the CDs and not worry about shipping (great idea if you’re outside the U.S.).” Click here for full announcement.

I encourage you to take advantage of this great deal on cross-centered, gospel-focused, Christ-exalting music!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Recently, Muslim scholars have sought to begin an open dialogue with Christian scholars based on a “common word” between the two world religions. Here is how The Official Website of A Common Word introduces their effort:

“On October 13th 2006, one month to the day after Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address of September 13th 2006, 38 Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world, representing all denominations and schools of thought, joined together to deliver an answer to the Pope in the spirit of open intellectual exchange and mutual understanding. In their Open Letter to the Pope (see english.pdf), for the first time in recent history, Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam spoke with one voice about the true teachings of Islam.

Now, exactly one year after that letter, Muslims have expanded their message. In A Common Word Between Us and You, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals have unanimously come together for the first time since the days of the Prophet to declare the common ground between Christianity and Islam. Like the Open Letter, the signatories to this message come from every denomination and school of thought in Islam. Every major Islamic country or region in the world is represented in this message, which is addressed to the leaders of all the world’s churches, and indeed to all Christians everywhere.”

Over 300 Christian scholars responded positively to “A Common Word” in their own document (advertisement) titled, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to A Common Word Between You and Us.” The names of the signatories are located at the bottom of the full page ad.

You can read all the documents for yourself as linked above. What are we to think about this dialogue? What about the language used in these documents? Is the gospel of Jesus Christ being compromised? Below I have linked two responses from Christian scholars that have influenced me:

Dr. Al Mohler responded to “A Common Word” in a Baptist Press article linked here.

Dr. John Piper has a video response below (ht: Justin Taylor):

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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This past Sunday morning, we sought to gain a better understanding of the origin of the universe. As we study Genesis 1-11, we are seeking to obtain the original meaning of the text for its intended audience: the Israelites wandering in the wilderness seeking to enter the promised land.

As I have tried to argue, the creation account in Genesis serves as a polemic (argument against) the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) creation myths. Genesis 1 & 2, point out that unlike the ANE myths that credit creation to selfish and angry gods and goddesses, the Lord Our God is the only true, living, eternal God, and He created all things from nothing (Hebrews 11:3) for His glory and for our joy. Now, to be sure, such an account argues against the evolutionary theories that try to account for the origin of the universe. For helpful resources that argue against evolution see, Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, and Phillip E. Johnson’s, Darwin on Trial.

I also argued Sunday that the point of the account is not to give us particular details about the length it took to complete this creation but that God Himself created all things in an orderly manner, and that the process of creation itself argues against the ANE deities and argues for God forming, filling and preparing creation as the habitation of His people in the midst of His presence, providing a pattern for God’s kingdom: God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule. In this sense, Christians ought not demand for a particular position on or approach to the age of the earth. For a helpful study by the Presbyterian Church in America that explains the various legitimate Christian positions on the age of the earth see their Report of the Creation Study Committee.

Reflect this week on God’s good creation (take a hike) and give glory to God for the marvel of His creation! Go outside somewhere and read Psalms, 19 and 104. Also, remember that we are to be the stewards of God’s creation; thus, we should be the true conservationists. May we, along with the heavens, declare the glory of God!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Jan
21

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

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John Piper has an excellent post on not wasting Martin Luther King day.

If you happen to have Monday off to honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., then I encourage you to take a few minutes to read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Jan
18

Southern Baptists and Calvinism

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Calvinism, also known as the doctrines of grace or Reformed theology, is making waves in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Actually, Calvinism has been making waves in the SBC for quite a while; however, now there is growing concern by some of the SBC “old” guard because an increasing number of young seminarians are embracing the doctrines of grace.

Southern Baptist evangelists recently got together to lament the growth of Reformed theology among Southern Baptists. Read the Baptist Press article: “Evangelists lament Calvinism; SBC trends”

Christianity Today recently posted, “TULIP Blooming: Southern Baptist Seminaries re-introduce Calvinism to a wary denomination.” (HT: Justin Taylor)

In September of 2006, Colin Hansen, wrote an article for Christianity Today titled, “Young, Restless, Reformed,” in which he addressed the growth of Reformed theology among young evangelicals. Contrary to the concerns of some in the SBC, Hansen notes that this Calvinism is marked by a passion for God’s glory which leads to a passion to make God famous throughout the world: i.e., evangelism and missions. Hansen is also publishing his findings in a book due out in early 2008.

Unfortunately, some of the concerns around Calvinism (the doctrines of grace, Reformed theology) stem from ignorance. This is one of the reasons we should be readers. Let us read and meditate on God’s Word; let us read and consider thoughtful arguments; let us reason with one another. Let us not embrace systems of theology and then promote “a” system as an end all and be all. Let us instead allow Scripture to inform our theological systems. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, we should be willing to allow Scripture to correct our systems wherever and whenever necessary. Systems of theology serve as frameworks for our ministries whose entire purpose is to exalt Christ as the greatest treasure. It is Christ we preach, not systems!

By conviction I am a Calvinist and hold to the doctrines of grace or Reformed theology. However, the term Calvinist means many things to different people, so I refuse to use labels. Instead, I choose to use biblical terminology wherever possible.

If you would like to study the doctrines of grace or Reformed theology, there are various sources; however, let me point you to one you can access immediately – What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, put together by the Bethlehem Baptist Church Staff. Also, you can check out the resources on the doctrines of grace on the desiring God website here.

You may also listen to a sermon on election which I preached from John 6, here.

Finally, here is a sermon by Charles Spurgeon on election.

I pray that this information will be helpful and useful in your personal study.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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I had a question about what one book I would recommend for studying Genesis. Since the books I am using are primarily related to exposition, I thought I would recommend one that Brandon Rawlings, one of our doctoral engineering students suggested: Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach by Vern Poythress.

I have not read it, but I just finished skimming it and it looks like a good beginning point for those interested in an introduction to Genesis 1 and the related science and creation questions and theories. Thankfully, Dr. Poythress has provided the entire book online, so you may access it immediately by clicking on the title above.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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I thought I would share with you what I am reading to prepare for our exposition of Genesis 1-11. I am enjoying my study of Genesis, and I think some of you may enjoy reading some of these resources along with me.

Scripture
This is a given, but sometimes I need the obvious stated for me. Before any other reading it is important that our study of Scripture begin with Scripture. For example, when I was preparing the first message on Genesis 1:1-2, the Spirit directed me to Isaiah 40-45; Job 38-42. These particular texts show how creation theology exalts God by exposing and explaining certain attributes made evident by the fact that Yahweh is the creator God.

This week, as I prepare to preach Genesis 1:1-2:3, and focus on the creation account, I have been led to John 1 and Colossians 1:15-20. Each week I look to other passages of Scripture that will give me insight into the text I am preparing.

Expositional Aids
I try to begin my study for series by trying to gain a big picture of the whole before I work on the parts. I have found the following helpful in my preparation:
Preaching Christ from Genesis by Sidney Greidanus

Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis by Allen Ross

Commentaries
Reading the introduction to commentaries is also helpful in gaining a big picture of the whole, but I thought I would classify those together here:
The Book of Genesis 1-17 (NICOT) by Victor Hamilton

Genesis (TOTC) by Derek Kidner

Genesis 1-11:26 (NAC) by Kenneth Matthews

Genesis (NIV Application) by John Walton

Genesis by Bruce Waltke

Genesis 1-15 (Word) by Gordon Wenham

I will place links to the books I am using each particular week on the right hand side of the blog. I hope these resources will be beneficial to you.

Please feel free to share what resources have helped you in your study of Genesis.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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