Friday, May 28, 2010
Radical: Taking Your Faith Back From the American Dream by David Platt
The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Bear that Changed the World by Stephen Mansfield
Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures by Dennis E. Johnson
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
At the end of the biography Metaxas writes about Bonhoeffer's view of death. This is where the study of resurrection and Bonhoeffer cross paths. Here is the quote that struck me. It is from a sermon preached by Bonhoeffer while he was pastoring a church in London. He says,
No one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God, no one has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected, and not been homesick from that hour, waiting and looking forward to being released from bodily existence.
Whether we are young or old makes no difference. what are twenty or thirty or fifty years in the sight of God? And which of us knows how near he or she may already be to the goal? That life only really begins when it ends here on earth, that all that is here is only the prologue before the curtain goes up - that is for young and old alike to think about. Why are we so afraid when we think about death? ... Death is only dreadful for those who live in dread and fear of it. Death is not wild and terrible, if only we can be still and hold fast to God's Word. Death is not bitter, if we have not become bitter ourselves. Death is grace, the greatest gift of grace that God gives to people who believe in him. Death is mild, death is sweet and gentle; it beckons to us with heavenly power, if only we realize that it is the gateway to our homeland, the tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace.
How do we know that dying is so dreadful? Who knows whether, in our human fear and anguish we are only shivering and shuddering at the most glorious, heavenly, blessed event in the world?
Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.
Those are powerful words spoken by a person who is safe from all harm. But when you consider the fact that Bonhoeffer was facing an evil regime that he opposed with public words and actions, you begin to see the power of God in the life of his servant. So I began to wonder, how do we view death? Would you say that it is the gateway to the eternal home that you are homesick for? Or would you have to admit that you are so in love with the things of this life that death seems cold and night and hell to you? Just something to think about. Talk to you soon... CW
P.S. Bonhoeffer was executed on April 8, 1945 at Flossenburg prison. He died a noble death and joined the martyrs around the throne of Christ. He told a friend when he knew he was going to be executed, "This is the end...for me the beginning of life!" One of the men, Dr. H. Fischer-Hullstrung, who attended his execution is quoted as saying of Bonhoeffer, "At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God." May we all die with such a godly testimony and a godly courage! To God Be the Glory for the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Monday, May 24, 2010
By the way, I am also probably best labeled Reformed-Charismatic. I would like to be able to explain the biblical meaning to both words, but I find it to be best if the label stands on its on so that conversation is sparked!
I also freely admit and gladly labor as nothing but an ordinary pastor. There is nothing extraordinary about me as either an intellect or orator or shepherd. I am serving the King with all I have that he might have all the glory, now and forevermore!
2 Timothy 4:1-5
- Paul is telling Timothy that all the Word should be preached under the rubric of the gospel. The Old and the New Testaments hold the treasure of the account of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- We as pastors need to make the commitment to be unoriginal. It is not our calling to be unique and creative. It is our calling to deliver the gospel that was once for all delivered to the saints! Preach the Word without addition or subtraction, and God will work to do all thing according to his good pleasure.
- In order to be faithful to the message, we must know our people (2). We cannot get the sermon from the people but we have to get the sermon with the people!
- Godly character (2). Paul charges us to work with the people in complete patience. I must think of God's patience toward me. "How long has it taken me to appropriate the truth I am teaching in my own life?" If I lack patience, then I am self-righteous. Remember that sanctification is a process.
- As a pastor I must learn to be relentlessly faithful to the ministry God has entrusted to me. Every day, day after day, I must serve the Lord with gladness in the place he has planted me.
C.J. concluded by encouraging us with the words of Paul in verses 6-8. "Ordinary, faithful pastors will receive the commendation of Christ at the judgment"
*I was also challenged to pick up a copy of D.A. Carson's biography of his father Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor:The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I will cover the highlights of the sermon, but the entire sermon can be listened to or read at www.desiringgod.org. Please take the time to digest this sermon. It is critical that we as evangelicals defend the gospel of Christ/Paul/Justification by Faith Alone! Here is my synopsis.
All I will focus on in this post is the "implications" section of the sermon. At the end I will give you several quotes from the body of the sermon.
- Jesus' gospel is also Paul's gospel.
- Nothing we do is basis for justification. It is so freeing to hear the truth of the gospel. I am not being made righteous by my actions, my words, my beliefs. I am righteous through Christ alone! I am justified by the external work of God through his Son.
- Our standing with God is based on Jesus, not us. "Take heart in your struggle with indwelling sin, and remember that your standing as a cherished child of God is based not in yourself but in Christ alone. When you feel like a failure as a father or a husband or a pastor or a friend, where will you look if not to Christ for your righteousness? When Satan accuses us that we have never done a perfectly motivated deed in our life—not one—and then reminds us of God’s standards of perfection, how will we thrust Satan down but by this truth, this reality?" This point is profound. When you struggle for assurance of salvation the temptation is to look for fruit of salvation in your life. That will always lead to more doubt because the fruit is always mixed with failure. Whenever doubt arises in the struggle with sin, we look to Christ alone for salvation and assurance!
- Transformation is the fruit, not the root of justification. Looking to the fruit present in our life for assurance of salvation will only rob us of the joy found in faith alone in Christ alone.
- All our goodness is evidence and confirmation not ground. "Settle it once and for all that the dozens of places in the Bible that make your good behavior the condition of your final salvation are a condition only as the fruit and confirmation of justification, not the ground of it. If you do not settle this, you will live in continual turmoil wondering what all those texts mean that say to Christians: “Those who do such things will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (1 Corinthians 6:9). Don’t submit to that torment. Settle it. All the good that God requires of the justified is the fruit of justification by faith alone, never the ground of justification. Let the battle of your life be there. The battle to believe. Not the battle to perform." Nothing need be added here. We are not working and performing for our salvation. We have salvation because of Christ's work and performance!
- The gospel is for every person and every people.
- Jesus gets the full glory. "Don’t rob the Lord of half his glory in bringing you to God. Christ is our pardon. Christ is our perfection. "
1. If you interpret faithfully the deeds and the words of Jesus as he is portrayed in the four Gospels, your portrait of Jesus will be historically and theologically more in accord with who he really was and what he really did than all the varied portraits of all the critical scholars who attempt to reconstruct a Jesus of history behind the Gospels.
Or to state it even more positively: If, by means of historical and grammatical effort, accompanied with the Spirit’s illumination of what is really there, you understand the accounts of the four Gospels as they stand, you will know the Jesus who really was and what he taught.
2. One thing is the issue: This man was morally upright. He was religiously devout. He believed God had made him so. He gave thanks for it. And that is what he looked to and trusted in for his justifying righteousness before God—for his justification. And he was dead wrong to do so.
3. And what about the tax collector? What did he do? He looked away from himself to God. He trusted in nothing in himself. He trusted in God’s mercy. And Jesus said, “God declared him righteous and acceptable.” That’s what “justified” means (see Luke 7:29).
Talk to you soon... CW
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Mark 4 is the Magna Carta of Evangelism! You sow the gospel, go to sleep, and the gospel grows. We do not understand it. We simply have faith in God! (verses 26-29) One of the best insights in this section was in verse 28. MacArthur pointed out that the words "by itself" in the text mean that the seeds of the gospel grow "automatically." It is the Divine Automatic that causes the gospel to grow!!!
- We need to live in humility (1-20)
- We are obedient because we know we poses the light (21-25).
- We go diligently to spread the Word (24-25).
- We are confident because of our faith in God's faithfulness (30-32)
Monday, May 10, 2010
Paul's Pastoral Purpose: Colossians 1:24-2:5
- Paul's over arching design and purpose was to preach, teach, and disciple every member of the church so that they might be presented mature and spotless to Christ
- Before we engage the culture we need to see the beauty of the purpose of pastoring.
- There is great danger in making "plausible" arguments. We must always be aware of the danger of drifting away from the mission of the church. There may be many "good" things but there is only one "great" purpose for the church. We must live to present the truth of the gospel!!
- We must be ruthless in our commitment to the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the foundation and power of ministry.
- Thabiti reminded us that Paul had the culturally relevant topic of slavery during his work as a pastor. Paul did not ignore the issue. He engaged the church with the issue. Paul proclaimed that slavery is contrary to the gospel, and because slavery is contrary to the gospel, Paul pushed to the logical and radical conclusion that slavery should not be named among the people of the church! He did not engage the culture, but he did engage the church with the radical implications of the gospel. This is our place in the shaping of culture. Live the gospel while we preach the gospel so that the world may see the power of the gospel.
- We must teach the church to walk in Christ (6)
- We must be captive to Christ (8)
- We must teach the people of the church to live and act in the gospel (9-14). This means we must emphasize a high Christology (9) and we must teach them the promise and benefits of the gospel (10-14).
- Paul sees the danger in verse 8 that the people will be caught in worldly philosophy. We must remember that Christ cannot be blended with the culture. Christ is the antithesis of the worldly culture and its worldly philosophy.
- Warning #1 - Do not let others judge you based on the standards of "religion" (16).
- Warning #2 - Do not let anyone disqualify you based on asceticism (18).
- This was the highlight of the talk!!! We must push people to shed ethnic cultural skin. We must push people to put on the skin of the gospel culture. Even the culture of the Jews in Israel was a shadow but Christ is the substance.
- When we say church, we must think multi-ethnic but mono culture, Gospel Culture!!!
- The only way to be any earthly good is to be heavenly minded.
- Other worldly perspective makes us strive toward Christ likeness!
- Christ must be our focus that will make us truly effective.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
- Modern Trajectory: Rudolph Bultmann said that we cannot live in the world of modern electricity and hold onto the belief in the supernatural. Modernist have tried to demythologize the Bible.
- Post-Modern Trajectory: Modernity is like a universal acid. Once you have removed the supernatural from your conscience there is no stopping place. Modernity lead us into the loss of the objective truth standard. We now struggle to have a gospel of relativism.
- Moral Trajectory: In this error people are led to believe that the world must be fair. Christianity is not acceptable because it is not fair. Dr. Mohler concluded this point by saying, "Perfect is infinitely superior to fair!"
- Aesthetic Trajectory: This belief leads to the rejection of the true gospel because the Bible is not beautiful when judged by human standards. We should never forget that beauty must be determined not by my standard or your standard but by the biblical standard. Beauty does prove the existence of God, but only when we look to the Bible as the author of beauty.
- Therapeutic Trajectory: This false gospel teaches us that sin is a syndrome. We all need therapy so that we can cope with our disease and live at peace. The problem hear is that sin is treated as sickness not death. The true gospel teaches us that we are dead in our sins. We do not need therapy. We need to be regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit.
- Pragmatic Trajectory: This direction leads to management philosophy, marketing, and the belief that if what we are doing draws a big enough crowd then it must be right. Dr. Mohler summed up his critique of this false gospel by saying, "Pragmatic Gospel Philosophy produces crowds that are not churches and results that are not regeneration!"
- Emotional Trajectory: The emotionally driven gospel will avoid all truth that feels bad and run to the half truths that feel good. The only way to avoid this trap is to let the truth of God's Word drive emotions. We cannot drive emotions to find truth.
- Materialist Trajectory: As we have all seen in the last few months, the Prosperity Gospel not only destroys the spiritual life of the church, but it leaves the church physically bankrupt. The emphasis of the physical nature over the spiritual nature causes people to lose sight of Christ as their one treasure. This gospel is rampant and is sending millions to hell because of false faith.