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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Definition of Sin

What is sin?

The glory of God not honored.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savored.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.

This statement was taken from a sermon by John Piper in Romans 7, titled "The Greatest Thing in the World."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament

This past Sunday I preached from Mark 14:32-42 (morning) and Psalm 3 (evening). It was remarkable, to me at least, how similar the context and prayer of David are with Jesus' episode in the Garden and his further Passion. These are some of the thoughts that ran across my mind as I progressed through each verse:

Psalm 3:1, "O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;"
--Judas has already put into action the plans for betrayal.
--Judas quickly arrives with a "crowd" who are armed and are seeking to take custody of Jesus.
--Many gave false testimony against Jesus (Mark 14:56)
--The crowd of Jews wanted Barabbas rather than Jesus released (Mark 15)

Psalm 3:2, "many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God."
--Matthew 27:43 records the chief priests, scribes, and elders mocking Jesus saying, "He trusts in God, let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, I am the Son of God."

Psalm 3:3, "But you, O LORD are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head."
--See John 8:54

Psalm 3:4, "I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill."
--As David cried to Yahweh, Jesus likewise cried out to Abba Father. And just as God answered David's prayer, Jesus' prayer was answered as well.

Psalm 3:5-6, "I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around."
--The fact that David's prayer was answered is found in verse 5. Though thousands were seeking to take his life, he was able to sleep, and his fear was alleviated. Jesus' prayer is answered as well. The Father willed for Jesus to go to the cross, and Jesus was obedient. And though Jesus was sorrowful, even to death, he was strengthened through prayer for his mission.

Psalm 3:7, "Arise O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked."
--David calls on Yahweh to be the deliverer and judge.
--Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Psalm 3:8, "Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people."
--The very thing which Jesus was accomplishing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Neglect of the Trinity?

The Trinity is one of the most distinguishing doctrines Christianity possesses. It sets us apart from every other religion, and it especially differentiates us from Islam and Judaism. So my question is: Do we neglect this great doctrine in our churches?

Nobody would argue that we emphasize what Christ has accomplished:

The Son of God redeems us from the curse of the law and becomes a curse for us (Gal 3:13).
The Son of God absorbs the wrath of God for those who believe by faith (Rom 5:9; 1 John 4:10).
The Son of God is our ransom (Mark 10:45).
The Son of God is our righteousness (2 Cor 5:21).
The Son of God provides forgiveness for our sins (Eph 1:7).

We could go on, but I think you get the point. I might add, pastors rightly emphasize these blessings in Christ, however our salvation is brought about by our Trinitarian God. How often do we preach on:

How the Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4)?
How the Father predestined us to adoption through Christ (Eph 1:5)?
How the Father draws us to Christ (John 6:44)?

How often do we preach on the Holy Spirit's work in Regeneration and Sanctification?

A recovery of the entire gospel will do our churches well. This also will help the church to understand why the Bible talks about salvation in past, present, and future tenses.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Edom and Judas

In Obadiah, God forecasted his judgment by way of prophetic oracle upon the nation of Edom. Edom was guilty of many sins. Edom was full of pride. Instead of depending upon God, Edom trusted in its alliances with other nations. One particular accusation against Edom made by Obadiah is Edom's violence against its kinsmen. Edom is guilty of violence against the Israelites.

Obadiah 10, "Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever."

The Edomites were the descendants of Esau the elder twin and brother to Jacob. When Judah was judged by God for her own disobedience by way of the Babylonians, Edom capitalized upon Judah's defeat. Edom did not help Judah. In fact, Edom was complicit in its defeat (v6, v11). Edom gloated over Judah's downfall (v13). Edom even captured those who managed to escape from the initial attack (v14).

The potency of God's anger is seen in his words of condemnation for Edom in verse 18, "...they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the Lord has spoken," and in verse 10, " shall be cut off forever."

I have reflected upon this righteous anger towards Edom, which was fulfilled for the Lord says in Malachi 1:3, "Esau have I hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert." In my reflection, my Sunday morning text came to mind, which is Mark 14:12-26. If God's anger toward Edom is severe for its treatment of its kinsmen, then imagine God's anger towards the man who betrays his beloved Son leading to his death. There should be no wonder why there are comments like that found verse 21, "...but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Alcohol question continues...

Baptist Press has published another editorial on alcohol consumption. This time the article is authored by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President, Paige Patterson. You can find his editorial arguing for complete abstinence here. In keeping with a past post, here is a link to some posts critiquing Patterson's article. Read both and see what you think.

(HT) Tom Ascol

Monday, July 10, 2006

A word of caution to readers

Any posts that I (Jason) place on this blog are my views alone. They are not Seth's views. They are not Brent's views. Seth's posts are his own. Brent's posts are his own. Both Seth and Brent are more than adequate to articulate their own positions with regards to Christian theology and practice (and for any other matter).

Also, to any readers, please do not lump me with any movement of thought or group of people. My thoughts are my own. Please do not try to associate me with other individuals for I am only one man. And please do not try to understand my complete theology based on one common view I have with another brother or sister in Christ.

I seek to be informed by Scripture, and I try to read widely from many different theological perspectives from individuals whom I think do the same thing. So while I desire the fortitude and passion of Martin Luther in his bold stand for justification by faith alone, I do not share his views regarding communion. While I desire and admire the evangelistic zeal of John Wesley, I do not share his views of church polity. While much of what I have learned about the Old Testament is due to the influence of Daniel Block (current professor at Wheaton, formerly of the SBTS), I do not share his view on the Sabbath.

Please do not evaluate Brent by a post which I make. Please do not evaluate Seth by a post which I make. Please only evaluate me by the words I say, I think this is the biblical approach.

Romans 14:12, "So then each of us will give an account of himself to God."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

We are praying for you Brent and Elizabeth!

Brent and Elizabeth,
I wanted to let you know that you have been in our prayers daily, and I am sure the Lord will be with you sufficiently tomorrow as you preach. I am looking forward to hearing about it, give me a call when you can.

(For those not in the know, Brent, currently a youth pastor in NC is preaching tomorrow before a pulpit committee, as he has determined the Lord would have him now shepherd a church, as a senior pastor)

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Olivet Discourse

I am currently preaching through the Gospel of Mark. Last Sunday, my text was chapter 13, which is commonly called the Olivet Discourse. I found it difficult to break down the chapter into multiple sermons so I tackled the entire text in one sermon. Further reflecting has led me to believe I could have broke the text possibly into two sermons having vv 32-37 as a stand alone, but this would entirely depend upon one's interpretation of these verses.

Anyone who has examined this text as it is written in Mark knows the great difficulties it possesses for interpretation. The question which guides the speech of Jesus concerns the destruction of the Temple Complex. Jesus says to the Disciples, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." To which the disciples respond, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?"

It is held by many that Jesus is talking about two separate events. First he is addressing the coming destruction of the Temple. In addition to this, many believe he addresses the signs preceding his 2nd coming, no doubt in part because in the Gospel of Matthew the disciples ask Jesus both questions (Matt. 23:3). Yet, when examining Mark's version, we must first seek to understand it as he has written it, not as Matthew has written the exchange.

I have settled (may change with time) on the position that Jesus' words contained in verses 5-31 are addressed with the destruction of the Temple in view, not his 2nd coming. I have uneasily settled on verses 32-37 referring to the 2nd coming of Christ Jesus, but am tempted to see these as addressing the Temple as well.

These are the difficult verses for my view found in the context of chapter 13:
1. Mark 13:10, "And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations."
2. Mark 13:19, "For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be."

For those who see most of this speech referencing the signs and events which precede the 2nd coming of Christ, the huge problem verse is Mark 13:30, which says, "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."

Needless to say, there are no easy answers for both positions. Even in Matthew's version, you still have to differentiate where Jesus is addressing the Temple and where he is addressing the 2nd return in addition to a comparable statement to Mark 13:30 (Matt 24:34).

Any comments...and does anyone know of a good sermon preached from Mark chapter 13?

The Alcohol Debate Continues

As I have stated earlier in a previous post, I was disappointed to see a resolution on complete abstinence from alcohol brought to the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention and adopted. Here are just a couple of reasons why I think it was a poor decision:

1. Southern Baptists have brought many like resolutions on alcohol before the Convention and have been adopted already by the Southern Baptists. Why do we need a new one?
2. There are many more issues which needed more time and discussion. What ends up in the press reports is the debate on alcohol consumption, when the gospel should be our focus.

Dr. Daniel Akin has continued this debate with a recent article published in Baptist Press news. It can be found here. He argues for complete abstinence when it comes to alcohol consumption. Since we are not likely to see an article from the opposite perspective published in Baptist Press, check this one out, written by Joe Thorn, Pastor, and graduate from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Thorn's article is written as a critique of Akin's.

Both articles make good points. What do you think? Is one more faithful to the Bible than the other?