Archive for Theology
Is it possible to be connected to Jesus (i.e., church member, baptized, etc.) and still not be a Christian? The Scriptures indicate the answer is yes; the primary example is Judas Iscariot (John 6:70-71; 13:21-30; 17:12). In John 15, Jesus reminds us that the Father planted the true vine and cares for the branches so that they would glorify Him by bearing fruit (15:1-2). In the Old Testament, we are reminded that God had planted Israel as the vine that would produce fruit; however, they produced sour grapes instead, so God declared that He would no longer prune them and protect them (Isaiah 5:1-7; Ezekiel 19:10-14). Now Jesus, not Israel, is the true vine. Jesus is the true Israel, the true vine that produces fruit (15:1-2). John’s fulfillment theology shows how Jesus fulfills the old age: Jesus turns the old purification waters into new wine (2:1-12); Jesus calls for the tearing down of the old temple and claims that He is the new temple (2:13-21); Jesus claims that the old worship tied to a time and place will be no more because new worship is not about time and place but about Him (4:19-41). So, Jesus is the true, fruitful vine that replaces the old, fruitless vine (15:1), and those who are His will bear fruit. Fruitfulness is an undeniable mark of a genuine follower of Jesus.
So, if Jesus produces fruit through His branches (i.e., disciples), and genuine branches bear fruit, thus showing to be true disciples, then what kinds of fruit glorify the Father (15:8)? John reminds us of the fruits of obedience (15:10), peace (14:27), love (15:12), witness (15:26-27). We also find in Scripture that followers of Christ should bear the fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:7-10); the fruit of Light which is found in all that is good and right and true (Ephesians 5:7-12); the fruit of lips which is a sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15); and of course, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).
However, the important question is how does one bear such fruit (15:3-7)? The way in which one answers this question betrays the difference between religion and Christianity, for religion too proposes that its proponents bear such or similar fruit. However, whereas religion suggests that the individual is responsible for bearing such fruit in his or her own power, the gospel reminds us that we are incapable. The only fruit we can produce in our own power would be rotten. The gospel, on the other hand, reminds us that fruitfulness flows from a continuous, intimate and dependent relationship with Christ, which is initiated by God. Jesus initiates relationship to Him by His cleansing word (15:3). He is the one who has come to reveal the true nature and glory of the Father (John 1:1-18); the Spirit is the one who removes the heart of stone and gives a new heart that beats for God in the new, heavenly birth (John 3:1-8; see Ezekiel 36:22ff); and the only appropriate response is to believe in Jesus, whom the Father has sent (John 3:9-15), and to keep believing.
Genuine believers remain in continuous relationship with Jesus. If we are to bear fruit, we must remain/abide in Christ; apart from Him we can do nothing – no fruit (15:4-6). As the true vine, Jesus is the only source of life (14:6; 15:3) and thus, of fruit bearing (15:4-5). Those who do not remain in Christ do not bear fruit and will be cut off (15:6; Ezekiel 15:1-8; 19).
Genuine believers remain in an intimate relationship with Christ. In other words, true believers remain in Jesus’ words – His teaching (truth) is the life-blood that flows through our veins (15:3, 7). True believers also remain in Jesus’ love (15:9-10; cf. 13:34-35; 14:23), which is most clearly displayed in His death on the cross in our place (15:13). We are to love one another as Jesus has loved us (1 John 3:11-18; 4:16-21; Romans 12:9-21).
Finally, genuine believers remain in a dependent relationship with Christ. We must depend upon Christ and look to Christ and cry out to the Father in the name of Christ that He would bear such fruit through us (15:7). We are to pray for such fruit that glorifies the Father (notice how Paul prays in Colossians 1:3-14).
Do you have a continuous, intimate and dependent relationship with Jesus? Examine yourself and see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Look to Christ and keep trusting in Christ. Everything Jesus has said and done is for God’s glory (John 17:1-5) and our joy (John 15:11). There is great joy in abiding in Christ!
John Piper, Ed Welch, Kevin DeYoung, Jarvis Williams, Russell Moore
Forgotten Factors in Sanctification
- David Mathis, “Mission and Disciplemaking “
- Kevin DeYoung, “Bread and Wine“
- R W Glenn, “Work and Rest“
- Fernando Ortega, “Corporate Worship“
Sanctification in the Seasons of Life (audio only)
- Elyse Fitzpatrick, “Grand-Parenting “
- Carolyn McCulley, “Singleness“
- Sally Lloyd-Jones, “The Child, The Parent, and The Story” (forthcoming)
Also download the list of songs from each worship session.
I’m looking forward to traveling to Minneapolis for the Desiring God National Conference this weekend. I would encourage you to “listen in” or live-stream if you are unable to attend. At the very least, download the audio/video after the sessions. Below is the information DG just sent out with the live-stream schedule:
If you’re not able to join us in Minneapolis for the conference this weekend, each of the main sessions will be live-streamed in both English and in Spanish at www.desiringgod.org/live.
The following is a schedule for the live-stream feed (all times Eastern). The live-stream feed will not include musical worship. Messages marked with an asterisk (*) are approximate start times only. The actual start times may vary based on the length of musical worship prior to teaching. Be sure to tune into the stream a few minutes earlier than scheduled for these sessions.
Friday, September 28
8:30* – 9:30 PM, John Piper, Prelude to Acting the Miracle: Putting Sanctification in Its Place
Saturday, September 29
10:00* – 11:00 AM, Kevin DeYoung, Incentives for Acting the Miracle: Fear, Rewards, and the Multiplicity of Biblical Motivations
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM, Ed Welch, Sinners Learning to Act the Miracle: Restoring Broken People and the Limits of Life in the Body
2:45 – 3:45 PM, Jarvis Williams, Acting the Miracle in the Everyday: Word of God, Means of Grace, and the Practical Pursuit of Maturity
4:15 – 5:15 PM, Panel Discussion, DeYoung, Moore, Piper, Welch, and Williams
8:30* – 9:30 PM, Russell Moore, Acting the Miracle Together: Corporate Dynamics in Christian Sanctification
Sunday, September 30
11:00* AM – 12:00 PM, John Piper, Remember the Gospel, Act the Miracle: Future Grace, the Word of the Cross, and the Purifying Power of God’s Promises
By now, you’ve likely read that a fourth century text fragment has been found which purportedly proves that Jesus had a wife – likely, Mary Magdalene. Of course, this story line is nothing new. Remember Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code?
Just in case there is any confusion, here are a couple of good responses to all the hoopla:
“The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife? When Sensationalism Masquerades as Scholarship”
by R. Albert Mohler
“The Far Less Sensational Truth about Jesus’ Wife”
by Michael Kruger
Jesus does in fact have a wife – the church: the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-33).
Justin Taylor provides a helpful reconstruction of the chronology of the events on Good Friday, leading up to the crucifixion of Christ.
As we prepare our hearts this Easter season, meditate on the passages provided in this harmony of the gospel accounts.
It is a sad state of affairs in the evangelical church when our conduct fails to distinguish us from the world. What kind of witness do we offer the world about the holiness of our God when we ourselves are not a holy people?
Adam: God’s Priestly King
God purposed to create a people who would dwell in the place of His presence and serve Him as priestly kings. We were created after God’s likeness as His sons and daughters in order to image God in His rule over all the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). In God’s presence, man had a priestly function (Genesis 2:15), serving God in the garden temple, extending its boundaries and fruitfully multiplying the image of God through godly offspring until the glory of God covered the face of the earth. Genesis 3 recounts man’s rebellion, resulting in man’s ejection and exile from God’s presence. However, there is hope of restoration through the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). This hope begins to be realized through Abraham.
Israel: A Kingdom of Priests
What was promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) becomes a reality in the people of Israel (Exodus 1:1-7). After having rescued Israel out of Egypt with a mighty hand, God lead the people to Mt. Sinai and proposed that if they would obey His voice and keep His covenant, then they would be God’s treasured people and serve Him as a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:5-6). As Israel kept the Mosaic covenant, they would declare their dedication to the one true living God, Yahweh, and distinguish themselves from the other nations, thus becoming a holy nation.
Within this kingdom of priests, God established a particular priesthood from the Levites with Aaron as high priest. This priesthood was to be holy to God and not profane His name (Leviticus 21:6). As holy priests, they were forbidden from marrying women of questionable character (Leviticus 21:7); the high priest could only marry a virgin (Leviticus 21:13). Further, whomever had a physical defect or deformity was forbidden from service (Leviticus 21:16-24).
As Israel’s history progresses, it becomes evident that the priesthood disqualified itself from service and received God’s judgment (Malachi 2:1-9). Nevertheless, again there is hope. The Lord Himself would come, but He would first send a messenger to prepare His people for His coming (Malachi 3:1-4; 4:5-6).
Jesus: The High Priest of a Better Covenant
The New Testament reveals that John the Baptist was the messenger and Jesus was God in the flesh (Matthew 3; 11:1-15). Unlike Adam and Israel before Him, Jesus is God’s son who faithfully images God’s rule over all things (Hebrews 1:1-4). Also unlike Adam and Israel, Jesus is a faithful, innocent, unstained, permanent priest (Hebrews 7:24-28)—a high priest of a better covenant (Hebrews 8).
The good news is that unlike the high priest under the Mosaic covenant who could only marry a sexually pure, virgin woman, Jesus betrothed Himself to a profaned bride in order to sanctify her (Ephesians 5:25-27) so that she would be pure on the wedding day (Revelation 19:7-8).
The Church: A Royal Priesthood
Now, under the new covenant inaugurated by Christ, God is restoring His original intention for a people to serve Him as priestly kings. Now, all who embrace Christ by faith become a royal priests (1 Peter 2:4-10). So then, let us be a holy people unto our God (1 Peter 2:11-12), glorifying our Lord as we proclaim His excellencies until that day when we will serve in the very presence of God as His priests, reigning on the earth (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).
In a previous post I had mentioned some of the ways we are 0r may be sacrificing our children to the gods of this world. One of those ways was potentially through the use of reproductive technologies. Daniel McConchie provides some helpful counsel for those considering the use of reproductive technologies in a blog post here.
From John Piper at the Desiring God blog:
Bloodlines is one of the most autobiographical books I have written. It tells my story from racism to the path of redemption. I preached on the theme of Bloodlines yesterday to mark Martin Luther King weekend. The title of the message was “From Bloodlines to Bloodline.” I argued that God is calling his people to move from the alienation of many bloodlines to the reconciliation of the single bloodline that began on the cross of Christ.
I urged my people to read the book. Not because I care about selling books, but because I want them to know my story, to be aware to the global relevance of the issue, and to feel the hope that comes from the power of the gospel.
In making the book available in a PDF version online for free we are trying to remove every obstacle that might keep you from that experience.
Chapter six is the one I tried to unpack in this week’s message. It is close to the center of the Gospel’s relevance for perseverance in the cause of Christ-exalting ethnic diversity.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Now it’s available for free in pdf. Please download it and read it.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15, ESV).
Christmas can be a dangerous time of the year because in the midst of our celebrations, we may forget there are others with great needs who face suffering and heartache during this season. We need to consider that Christmas is a great time for ministry. So, let us be compassionate and caring toward all, and seek opportunities to minister this Christmas.
There is an even greater reason why Christmas is dangerous; it’s dangerous because in the midst of all the lights and carols and candy and tinsel that help us celebrate the first coming of our Lord, we can forget just exactly WHY it was Jesus came. When we ask why Jesus came in the flesh, though, we are asking at the very least two questions. First, we are asking, “Why Jesus came in the FLESH?” In other words, why did Jesus have to take on human form? The second aspect of the question is, “WHY did Jesus come in the flesh?” Here we are asking about the purpose of the incarnation-God coming in the flesh? As we consider the WHY of Christmas, let me give two answers that begin to address both aspects of the question and lead us to bask in the glory of God’s beloved Son and our Savior, Jesus.
First, Jesus came in the flesh as our champion, to destroy the devil and deliver us from slavery (Hebrews 2:14-16). A champion identified with a particular people and represented them on the battlefield against an enemy. Perhaps the most famous champions in the Bible are David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Goliath represented the Philistines, while David represented Israel and God. As we know, David defeated Goliath and liberated Israel from present and future fear of the Philistines: i.e., bondage. Jesus is our champion sent by God to identify with us and represent us on the battlefield of this world against our enemy the devil. By his incarnation Jesus both identified with us and represented us. By His death and resurrection Jesus both defeated the devil and liberated us from slavery. Consequently, because of Christ’s victory over sin and Satan and death, we no longer need to fear death (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).
Secondly, Jesus came in the flesh as our high priest in order to offer Himself as the once for all sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 2:17-18). As the high priest represented the people before God in the temple (Hebrews 5:1-3), so Jesus had to be made like us in every way (except sin: Hebrews 4:15; 7:26) in order to represent us before God. Jesus is our high priest who offers Himself as the sacrificial lamb in our place (Hebrews 10:1-18). Therefore, because of Christ’s high priestly work, we can draw near to God with confidence (Hebrews 10:19-25).
So, for a world full of fear and without hope, we remember this Christmas that Jesus came to defeat the devil by paying the penalty for our sin through His sacrificial death, so that all who put their trust in Jesus Christ as their champion and high priest have their sins forgiven and no longer need to fear death. For a world full of suffering, we remember that since Jesus came in flesh and blood and suffered as a human being, then He is able to help us in our own suffering as human beings. Therefore, consider Jesus who has already run the course of this life and faced suffering and is now seated at the right hand of God, and you run the race of life with endurance, keeping your eyes fixed upon Jesus, the originator and completer of our faith.
(This post was originally posted on December 8, 2010)
God: The Origin and Source of Love
If we begin with the world’s understanding of love, we will only dwell in the erotic. If we are to understand love we must begin with God for God is love (1 John 4:8). 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, we see . . .
God’s love never ceases; it is eternal.
God has always loved; this is evident in the relations within the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world (John 17:24). This is the love that God shares with us. We were chosen in Him (Christ) 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). God love us because He chose to.
But God’s love is holy; God does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
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.
The love of God is most clearly displayed at the cross because it is there that we see the eternal, selfless, holy love of God as the Father poured out His wrath on the sinless Son in order that sinners may have everlasting life (1 John 4:9-10; 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!