Archive for April, 2013

Recent years have witnessed a plethora of books and articles on the relationship between the gospel and culture, between proclamation and doing good deeds, between the gospel of Paul and the gospel of the kingdom. Some of these polarities are singularly misjudged; others are important and deserve the most patient and biblically faithful exploration. But the lesson to be learned from the passages we have been surveying in 1 Cor 7 is this: even when we are rightly developing faithful cultural expressions of art and music, even when we are digging wells in the Sahel and developing centers to help the homeless, even when we patiently and lovingly build solid marriages in line with God’s disclosure of what marriage should be, even when we connect the use of our fiscal resources to kingdom priorities, the entire fabric of our current existence stands under God’s as if not. We cannot, we must not, be entirely engrossed even in good things that God himself labels χαρίσματα, God’s gracious gifts, if those gracious gifts are tied to an order that is passing away. If we learn this lesson well, we shall better understand what it means to lay up treasures in heaven

Read the whole article at link below

http://thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/as_if_not

Psalm 31 D.A. Carson

Posted: April 30, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

DAVID WAS IN DEEP TROUBLE. The exact circumstances may be obscure to us, as we who live three thousand years later probe the details. But we do know that David was shut up in a besieged city (Ps. 31:21) and felt trapped. He was so threatened that he flirted with despair. And that is when he felt abandoned by God himself: “In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from your sight!’” (31:22)

That is the worst despair of all — to feel that God has abandoned you. It was part of Job’s torment. Job felt he could mount a case in his own defense, if only he could find God long enough to argue with him. But the heavens were silent, and the silence multiplied his despair.

We have already reflected on the fact that it was fear of being abandoned by God that kept Jacob wrestling with the unknown man in the darkness (Gen. 32:22-32) and kept Moses pressing God to abandon his threat to remain outside the camp of the rebellious Israelites (Ex. 32 — 34). In a theistic universe, there can be nothing worse than being truly abandoned by God himself. The worst of hell’s torments is that men and women are truly abandoned by God. “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

Yet the sad reality is that we who bear God’s image oscillate between fearing abandonment by God, and wanting to escape from his presence. The same David who wrote this psalm was not particularly eager to delight in the presence of God when he was lusting after Bathsheba and plotting to murder her husband. Too often we would like God to look the other way when we hanker to thumb our noses at him and insist on following our own paths, and we would like God to demonstrate his presence and his glory to us, and certainly get us out of trouble, when we find ourselves in desperate straits.

What an incalculable blessing that God is better than our fears. He does not owe us succor, relief, or rescue. Even our cries of alarm — “I am cut off from your sight!” — may have more to do with desperate unbelief than with candid pleas for help. But David’s experience may prove an encouragement to us, for he quickly pens two more lines: “Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help” (31:22).

Love the LORD, all his saints!
The LORD preserves the faithful,
but the proud he pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD. (Ps. 31:23-24)

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

There is an almost overwhelming pressure on any politician with sympathy for the Christian religion or who espouses ‘Christian values’ to think of the kingdom of God as identical with the kingdoms served by politics. And many who are not politicians, including of course many bishops of the Church of England, appear to favour the same view. There were efforts made in the press to show that this was Baroness Thatcher’s view also.

However, ‘I vow to thee my country’, chosen by Lady Thatcher, is a fairly clear avowal of the two kingdoms view. Its sentiments run along with those of Charles Wesley’s ‘Love divine’, and with John Bunyan’s celebration of pilgrimage, ‘Who would true valour see’, also chosen by the Lady. There is a kingdom of this world, to the service of which Mrs Thatcher gave most of her life. And there is a kingdom of God, a kingdom that is not of this world, whose king is Jesus, which transcends earthly politics, and which is being formed gradually, quietly, gently. This is the ‘new creation’ of Wesley’s hymn – pure, spotless, and heavenly – which one day will be finished by the church’s almighty creator and redeemer.

http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2013/04/i-vow-to-thee-my-countrythere-is.html

Psalm 29 D.A. Carson

Posted: April 29, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

THE OPENING VERSES OF PSALM 29 SUGGEST that a great part of what it means to “worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” is to ascribe to him the praise that is his due: ascribe to him glory and strength, “the glory due his name”(29:1-2).

In this light, the central section of the psalm (29:3-9) is remarkable, for it focuses on just one element in God’s activity, viz. the voice of the Lord. “The voice of the LORD is over the waters” — possibly an allusion both to the original creation, when God simply “spoke” and the universe came into being and took form, and to the spectacular deliverance when God parted the Red Sea, but also to every storm-swept current; “the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.” The voice of the Lord is both powerful and majestic. It “breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon,” proverbial for their size and strength — an allusion to the unleashed storms that God’s voice calls forth. Indeed, this is nothing to him, for nations and mountains alike perform his bidding, and all of them hear the thunder of his voice in the storm that traverses from Lebanon in the north to Kadesh in the south.

The secularist looks at a storm and thinks exclusively of the physical properties that have brought it about. The believer understands that those properties have been built into the material world by its Creator, and that God himself speaks in thunder and lightning. The only proper response is to gather in his temple, and in a spirit of mingled awe and humility cry, “Glory!” (29:9).

Small wonder that the psalm ends (29:10-11) by focusing on the universal reign of God: “the LORD is enthroned as King forever,” whether at the time of the deluge (the Hebrew word for “flood” in this passage is found only here and in Gen. 6-11) — the very deluge that most powerfully demonstrated God’s power to deploy the forces of “nature” as he sees fit — or in the perpetual blessings and strength God confers on his people.

Isaiah foresees the day when the “Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples,” when the nations will rally to him and his place of rest will be, literally, “the glory” (Isa. 11:10). When Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was about to be sent into eternity by the furious mob, his eyes were opened, and he looked up to heaven and saw “the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).

His is the final voice of God; he is the Word of God. “Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength” (29:1). Let all cry, “Glory!”

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

the Bible’s sweeping story line.

Posted: April 29, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

Quote from Tim Keller’s Chapter in “The Scriptures Testify About Me”:

If there is one Old Testament passage that the New Testament invites us to read in a Christ-centered way as a paradigm of Christ’s salvation, it’s the exodus.

I’ll never forget nearly forty years ago sitting in R. C. Sproul’s living room in Stahlstown, Pennsylvania. Alec Motyer, a British Old Testament scholar I had never heard of, was visiting. I was on the floor with a bunch of other college and seminary students, and Sproul said to Motyer, “Tell us about the connection between the Old and New Testaments.” Motyer replied something like this:

Think about it. Think of what an Israelite would say on the way to Canaan after passing through the Red Sea. If you asked an Israelite, “Who are you?” he might reply, “I was in a foreign land under the sentence of death and in bondage, but I took shelter under the blood of the lamb. And our mediator led us out, and we crossed over. Now we’re on our way to the Promised Land, though we’re not there yet. But he has given us his law to make us a community, and he has given us a tabernacle because we must live by grace and forgiveness. And he is present in our midst, and he will stay with us until we arrive home.

Then Motyer added, “That’s exactly what a Christian says—almost word for word.” And my twenty-three-year-old self thought, “Huh.”

What can we learn from the Red Sea crossing about Jesus and our salvation? Three lessons: salvation is about getting out, but it’s about

what we’re getting out of: bondage with layers;
how we’re getting out of it: crossing over by grace;
why we can get out of it: the Mediator.

That’s how the story of the exodus connects with the rest of the Bible. We would not make these connections without the rest of the Bible, but the connections are clear when we look at the Bible’s sweeping story line.

 

HT:John Samson

“Creed”

Posted: April 26, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Discipleship

He will supply them, so pray for them

Posted: April 25, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Spurgeon

“We need again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields — men fit to mark eras—whose names breathe terror in our enemies’ ears. We have dire need of such! Where are they? From where will they come to us? We cannot tell in what farmhouse or village smithy, or schoolhouse such men may be, but our Lord has them in store. They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the Church and will come in due time. He has power to give us back, again, a golden age of preachers, a time as fertile of great Divines and mighty ministers as was the Puritan age which many of us account to have been the golden age of theology! He can send, again, the men of studious heart to search the Word and bring forth its treasures! The men of wisdom and experience rightly to divide it! The golden-mouthed speakers who, either as sons of thunder or sons of consolation, shall deliver the message of the Lord which the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven. When the Redeemer ascended on high He received gifts for men and those gifts were men fit to accomplish the edification of the Church, such as evangelists, pastors and teachers. These He is still able to bestow upon His people! It is their duty to pray for them, and when they come, to receive them with gratitude. Let us believe in the power of Jesus to give us valiant men, and men of renown, and we little know how soon He will supply them!”

– C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon #1200, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, The Power of the Risen Saviour, October 25, 1874.