Archive for June, 2010
Thank you so much for your patience. As we are working on a new website we have been a little slow in posting the weekly messages. As of today, the audio of 1 Corinthians is up. We are holding back on posting the video until we know what format we will utilize on our new site, but for now we wanted to make the audios available.
I am so thankful to Josh Turley, our media director, and for our media team. They are doing great work in order to serve you! In the next several weeks, we hope to unveil a new site which will make it much simple to access all our media for free.
Charles Spurgeon was a confident prayer warrior. Reflecting on prayer, he said:
“Oh, that every Christian enterprise were commenced with prayer, continued with prayer, and crowned with prayer! Then might we also, expect to see it crowned with God’s blessing. So once again I remind you that our Saviour’s example teaches us that, for seasons of special service, we need not only prayers of a brief character, excellent as they are for ordinary occasions, but special protracted wrestling with God like that of Jacob at the brook Jabbok, so that each one of us can say to the Lord, with holy determination, ‘With thee all night I mean to stay, And wrestle till the break of day.’ When such sacred persistence in prayer as this becomes common throughout the whole Church of Christ, Satan’s long usurpation will be coming to an end, and we shall be able to say to our Lord, as the seventy disciples did when they returned to him with joy, ‘Even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.’”
Such confidence in prayer flows from an understanding of what the Lord Himself teaches us about prayer in Scripture.
We are children of our heavenly Father (Matthew 7:7-11): “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Jesus glorifies our Father by answering prayers offered in His name (John 14:13-14). “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
When we are living in the Father’s will, our prayers will be answered (John 15:7) – “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Note also (1 John 3:21-22) – “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
If we ask according to the Father’s will, He hears us (1 John 5:14). “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
If our Father hears us, then we have what we ask for (1 John 5:15). “And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
These are not all the Scriptures that should give us confidence in prayer, but they are sufficient for our consideration and contemplation. It is amazing to consider that we are children of the living God who have come to the Father through the beloved Son, Jesus. Since the Father delights in His one and only Son, He also delights in us who have been adopted through the Son. And if He does not withhold any good thing from His Son, He will not withhold any good thing from us. After all, He has already given us the greatest treasure—Jesus Christ, the beloved. Why would He withhold anything else (Romans 8:32)?
On June 29, 1990, I married Jeanine Dell of Gainesville, Florida at 7:30 p.m. The Lord has been most gracious to us in these last twenty years. Jeanine is truly a daughter of Sarah – a woman who fears no man because she fears God and who encourages and helps me with a gentle and quiet spirit. She is also raising our daughters to be like Sarah, and I thank God for that.
May the Lord continue to bless our marriage together that we may display the gospel to our five girls, our families, our High Pointe family and those who do not know Christ. Marriage is a wonderful joy and gift.
Don’t waste your children’s summer (or yours for that matter) on television and video games. Instead, utilize this time to read with and to your children. One thing for sure, you should be reading Scripture with your family on a regular basis, and you can enhance your family Scripture reading with helpful devotional material. Beware of children’s material that merely promotes moralism. I prefer books that help explain the storyline of Scripture (biblical theology) and present a BIG God! Here are some helpful suggestions:
2. Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God by Bruce A. Ware (This is systematic theology for kids—great stuff!!!!)
3. Window on the World: Prayer Atlas for Children by Daphne Spraggett and Jill Johnstone (helps you pray with informed intentionality for the nations)
Resources for Use with Younger Children
1. Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland
2. The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos (my wife’s personal favorite)
3. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sallie Lloyd-Jones
4. The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm (my personal favorite!)
Resources for Use Older Children
1. Grandpa’s Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption by Starr Meade
Resources for Use with Pre-Teens/Teenagers
1. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
2. Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters by Joshua Harris
My charge to moms and dads would be to read Scripture with your children regularly and supplement Bible reading with the catechism and devotional reading. Each family must find what (time and place) works best for them. Also, use summer to read (together) through Christian literature like The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis or Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.
Summer is also a good time to read Christian biographies with your family. So, don’t waste your kids’ summer by allowing them to vegetate in front of a television or computer screen. Instead, take advantage of this time to spend quality time together, making memories and making much of God. I pray that these resources may be of great benefit to you and your family as you seek to raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Jeanine and I were walking through a parking lot this week, and I pointed out an SUV that had several anti-Obama bumper stickers. These were bumper stickers that clearly communicated animosity toward the President’s policies but beyond that also communicated a particular distaste for the President himself. What was most shocking, however, was the purposely-placed, large-sized window decal which proudly displayed the name of the church where the owners of the vehicle obviously attended.
It is no surprise to me that in such a politically heated environment some people would have strong opinions about our government and its policies; however, when self-professing Christians get caught up in the hateful political language and act just like everyone else who is spewing vitriol what does that communicate about the gospel and about where our hopes lie? It seems to me that too many evangelical Christians seem to think that the solution to our problems rests in getting the “wrong” people out of office and replacing them with the “right” people.
Well, this Wednesday I was reading through Justin Martyr’s First Apology, and I came across this most helpful quote in relation to the early Christians’ position toward a dictatorial, tyrannical government. In fact, Justin addressed his apology to “the Emperor Titus Aelius Adrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus Caesar, and to his son Verissimus the Philosopher, and to Lucius the Philosopher, the natural son of Caesar, and the adopted son of Pius, a lover of learning, and to the sacred Senate, with the whole People of the Romans.”
Justin was concerned that Christians were being persecuted simply because they bore the name Christian. He appeals to the governing authorities to judge Christians rightly based on their character and conduct, not the labels that have been given to them. In relation to whether or not Christians were a threat to Roman peace, Justin declares:
And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment awarded to him who so confesses. For if we looked for a human kingdom, we should also deny our Christ, that we might not be slain; and we should strive to escape detection, that we might obtain what we expect. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since also death is a debt which must at all events be paid (First Apology, Chapter XI).
And more than all other men are we your helpers and allies in promoting peace, seeing that we hold this view, . . . (First Apology, Chapter XII).
We’ve come a long way since the second century. Do we Christians act as if our hopes rest on this kingdom and its governments and its elected officials?
Precisely because our kingdom is not of this world, the Bible calls us sojourners and exiles (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). Precisely because our kingdom is not of this world, the Bible calls us ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our hope does not rest in this world, its governments or its elected officials; our hope rests in Christ alone, and His kingdom is not of this world.
Let us be good earthly citizens, fulfilling our responsibilities in God-glorifying ways to be sure, but let us remember that our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20; Ephesians 2:19). When we remember this truth, then we will seek the things that are above where Christ is (Colossians 3:1-4), and we will be peacemakers here on earth (James 3:17-18) as our Lord’s ambassadors who bring a message of reconciliation.
The discipline of biblical theology has greatly impacted my understanding of the Bible, preaching and ministry. I have read various introductions and full-length biblical theologies, but Michael Lawrence has done a great service to the church by writing a biblical theology introduction that is accessible to the church and practical for ministry. I am just now reading it and enjoying it thoroughly. I highly recommend it to all who desire a better understanding of Scripture and God’s plan for His people in order better to apply the gospel in life and ministry.
Mark Dever interviews Michael and Tom Schreiner about this new book and about biblical theology.
Michael on his new book:
Other important biblical theology resources:
God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Story-line of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts
Gospel and Kingdom in Goldsworthy Trilogy by Graeme Goldsworthy
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy
For the Advanced Reader:
Biblical Theology: Retrospect and Prospect edited by Scott Hafemann
On Particular Themes in Biblical Theology:
Central Themes in Biblical Theology: Mapping Unity in Diversity edited by Scott Hafemann and Paul House
If God is love, and if God’s love is most clearly seen at the cross of Christ, and if we are to love one another as God has loved us, then what are some implications of this divine love.
1. The love of God should move us to love God (worship) NOW. When we understand God’s love, it humbles us; it puts us in our place – no room for boasting (1 Corinthians 1). Also, it puts God in His place – we make much of God through Christ in the power of the Spirit: this is spirit & truth worship (John 4).
2. The love of God liberates us from the guilt, bondage and condemnation of sin and legalism NOW (1 John 3:19-24; 4:15-21).
3. The love of God protects us from the danger of lewd and licentious living NOW (1 John 2:28-3:10; 5:1-5).
4. The love of God empowers us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ NOW (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Ephesians 5:1-2.; 1 John 4:7-12).
5. The love of God empowers us to love our enemies NOW (Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:14-21).
6. The love of God compels us to love the lost and share with them the love of God NOW (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
Paul argues for the priority of love over gifts by stating that while prophesies will pass away and tongues will cease and knowledge will pass away, love never will. Love is enduring; it is permanent. Why such an emphasis on love? To be sure, Paul does not discard gifts; he urges the pursuit of the higher gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1). Nevertheless, we are to pursue love as THE more excellent way.
The Origin and Source of Love
If we are to understand love we must begin with God for God is love (1 John 4:8). If we begin with the world’s understanding of love, we will only dwell in the erotic. However, when we begin with God, we see that to say God is love is not merely to say that God is loving; it is to say that love is the essence of God’s being (Leon Morris, Testaments of Love, 36).
Most clearly, it is through the lens of the cross that we may understand God’s love (Romans 5:8). When we see God’s love through the lens of the cross, then we can see that . . .
God’s love never ceases; it is eternal.
The Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world (John 17:24). In other words, God has always loved; this is evident in the relations within the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There has always been love shared within the God-head.
This is the love that God shares with us. We were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; see also Romans 8:28-30).
God’s love is undeserved; it is unconditional.
This love that God shares with us is undeserved because we are sinners by nature who deserve God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). God does not love us because of something attractive in us (see Ezekiel 16; Hosea). God loves sinners because it is His nature to love (Morris, 142).
But God’s love is holy; God does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13:6, that love does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. This is because love is holy, righteous just as God is holy and righteous – after all, God is light (1 John 1:5). We have a sin problem that makes us unlovable (1 Corinthians 6:9-10); the solution is Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11). Here we see the selfless love of God – looking outward to others.
Therefore, God’s love is most clearly seen at the cross of Christ.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:9-10, ESV
The love of God is most clearly displayed at the cross because it is here that we see the eternal, selfless, holy love of God as the Father pours forth His wrath on the sinless Son in order that sinners may have everlasting life (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Love is THE way of the Christian because it is THE way of the Triune God.
If we say we are God’s, that we belong to God, then we will walk in the same way in which He walked (1 John 2:3-6). This is the message that has always been, even from the very beginning: love one another (1 John 3:11-15). The basis for this love for others is Christ.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16, ESV).
It is this love that is permanent, never-ceasing, for it is God’s love poured into our hearts.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5, ESV).
Let us, therefore, pursue love; let us love one another!
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,Paul uses verbal language to describe love, whereas many translations use adjectival language. What would it look like if we retained the verbal emphasis?
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love waits patiently – Love suffers long when wronged. Love also trusts God’s timing (Proverbs 19:11; 25:15)!
Love shows kindness (loving, merciful) – love does not repay evil for evil, but good for evil (Romans 12:9-21).
Love does not burn with jealousy – it does not envy what the Lord has provided for others (i.e., gifts).
Love does not brag – about what the Lord has provided (i.e., gifts).
Love does not become conceited – What do you have that you did not receive (1 Corinthians 4:7)?
1 Corinthians 13:5
Love does not behave disgracefully (indecently, unbecomingly) – no whining, no temper tantrums, no rudeness! This means that love shows respect and good manners – something lost in our society today!
Love does not seek its own things – love seeks the preciousness of others.
Love does not become irritated or exasperated – we become irritated, exasperated when we become impatient with people.
Love does not take into account wrongs (evil things done to you) – Are you a historian?
1 Corinthians 13:6
Love does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth – love is not naïve. John in 1 John lists two other tests along with love that identify a Christian: doctrine/truth and righteousness.
1 John 3:23-24 (ESV) And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
1 Corinthians 13:7
Love covers (bears) all things – we might say, love forbears (overlooking minor offenses) and forgives all sin (BDAG – “throws a cloak of silence over what is displeasing in another person.” Note also Proverbs 10:12).
Love believes all things – We might say that love is NOT cynical; it looks for evidences of grace in others. The cynical person believes the worst about people all the time; they are always suspicious. Because they are always suspicious, they will occasionally be right (a dead clock is right twice/day) and use that occasion to justify their cynicism.
Love hopes all things – Love hopes the best in and of others. It is a cheerleader, not seeking failure in others.
Love endures all things – love puts up with a whole lot for the glory of God and the gospel (Rom. 15:1-7)!