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Showing posts from September, 2012

ongoing rapport

"In the Scriptures God daily comes to his people, not from afar but nearby. In it he reveals himself, from day to day, to believers in the fullness of his truth and grace. Through it he works his miracles of compassion and faithfulness. Scripture is the ongoing rapport between heaven and earth, between Christ and his church, between God and his children. It does not just tie us to the past; it binds us to the living Lord in the heavens. It is the living voice of God." (Herman Bavinck)


R. C. Sproul writes,  About thirty years ago, I shared a taxi cab in St. Louis with Francis Schaeffer. I had known Dr. Schaeffer for many years, and  he had been instrumental in helping us begin our ministry in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in 1971. Since our time together in St.  Louis was during the twilight of Schaeffer’s career, I posed this question to him: “Dr. Schaeffer, what is your biggest  concern for the future of the church in America?” Without hesitation, Dr. Schaeffer turned to me and spoke one word:  “Statism.” Schaeffer’s biggest concern at that point in his life was that the citizens of the United States were beginning to  invest their country with supreme authority, such that the free nation of America would become one that would be dominated by  a philosophy of the supremacy of the state. (From "Statism" by R. C. Sproul, 2008) I think Dr. Schaeffer was prescient to see our path to statism.  When truth, and the quest for truth, is abandoned, all that  rema

the remarkable paradox

I appreciate the ministry of Ray Stedman, former pastor at Peninsula Bible Church (Palo Alto, CA), now deceased.  Was privileged to hear him at DTS many years ago.  This was taken from the daily devotion by email today: "For I am not in the least inferior to the super apostles, even though I am nothing." (2 Corinthians 12:11b) Hidden in verse 11 is a remarkable paradox that is possible only for those who are true servants of Christ. Notice how Paul  puts it: I am not in the least inferior, he says; and then in the next phrase, even though I am nothing. One statement is, I  am the equal of anybody; I am not inferior at all to these superlative apostles; I have everything they have and more, while  at the same time he can say, yet I am nothing. That is the mark of a true servant of Christ: the ability to say both of those  things and for both of them to be equally true. When Paul says, I am not inferior, he means, Everything I am in Christ,  everything that Christ can do

canonical bookends

The structure of the history of redemption forms a narrative chiasm.  This chiasm is further evidence of the completion of the Biblical canon.  Taken from Michael Kruger's Canon Revisited : The seven days of creation are the archetypal foundation for all of Scripture, governing mankind’s own seven-day workweek, and demonstrating the sense of completeness and wholeness to God’s creative activity. The number seven is also foundational to the book of Revelation. Not only is the book itself divided into seven sections, but there are seven churches, seven angels, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, seven plagues, and so on.  Thus, in effect, the first and last books of the canon form an inclusio of sevens, functioning as appropriate bookends to the overall sevenfold canonical structure—with Revelation as an appropriate “sabbath.”  The connections between Genesis and Revelation, and thus the existence of this macro inclusio , could be developed even further.  Genesis beg

sunday's closing confession

the gods we choose

"So much of what draws us to our personal gods has to do with where our needs are, where we hurt, why we hurt, and how we desire that pain to be satiated. It also has to do with our culture and what is promoted to us. In my experience standing in front of the towering stone sphinx, I wasn’t moved to worship, mostly because my Western culture hasn’t sold that to me. I’d be more tempted by a giant ice-cream cone. Preferably one with peanut- butter chunks." --Kelly Minter, in No Other gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols. Here's Tim Keller on what's an idol... What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give… [T]he human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can gi

communion liturgy

Was especially blessed by this section of a Kenyan communion liturgy when we attended an Anglican service.  May use this to close my message on Sunday... "It is right and our delight to give you thanks and praise,  Holy Father, living God, supreme over the world,  Creator, Provider, Savior and Giver.  From a wandering nomad ( Abraham ) you created your family;  for a burdened people you raised up a leader ( Moses );  for a confused nation you chose a king ( David );  for a rebellious crowd you sent your prophets.  In these last days you have sent us your Son,  your perfect image,  bringing your kingdom, revealing your will, dying, rising, reigning, remaking your people for yourself.  Through him you have poured out your Holy Spirit,  filling us with light and life.  Therefore with angels, archangels, and all in heaven,  we proclaim your great and glorious name." 

certainty and doubt

"Only the truth satisfies and answers to the need of the spirit.  There it finds rest. Certainty is rest, peace, blessedness, while doubt, surmise and opinion always involve a certain degree of discomfort and uneasiness. Certainty is the normal and  natural condition of the spirit as health is of the body. "Therefore, even the search for truth is beautiful and a precious gift. But even more beautiful and precious is finding it,  enjoying it and walking in its light. Doubt, on the other hand, is never the true condition of man, but is abnormal, like  disease.  Sometimes, due to the error and lies that beset our lives, doubt is necessary, just as a fever may be good for the  body and a thunderstorm good for the atmosphere. But in itself it is always a painful evil. He who doubts is like a wave on  the sea, but he who believes is like a rock." --Herman Bavinck, in The Certainty of Faith Photo above courtesy Jet Propulsion Labs at NASA

the NT canon revisited

"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV) In my opinion Canon Revisited by Michael Kruger is a landmark work on the New Testament canon.  It's not a book-by-book analysis, but a treatise on canonical method.  Kruger masterfully defines and defends the self-authenticating model, in contrast with the community-determined and the historically-determined models. Here's a highlight, from "The Divine Qualities of the Canon", on why we should be careful not to link the NT canon to current critical assessments of the New Testament... It is here, then, that we come to the crux of the matter. Should Christians abandon their commitment to the canon’s authority because biblical critics, who view scriptural interpretation as merely a human enterprise, claim to have discovered theological incongruities? No

handful of articles

Here are some recent notable articles I've read: Church and the College Years .  "Love for the 'universal' church necessitates love for and commitment to the 'local' church. So our local churches seek to manifest the universal church as a part of the body of Christ we can love, see, touch, struggle with, give to, and serve."  Why Mormon theology is not Christian (Ben Witherington).  "What I would say is that they are deceived about what the Bible really teaches about the nature of God, of Christ, of salvation, and of true humanity, not to mention the nature of the Scriptures which are indeed the sufficient rule of faith and practice for all true Christians and do not require supplements or corrections from Joseph Smith’s works." Making an idol of family .  "This stuff of many women's fantasies includes an adoring, faithful spouse; attractive, obedient kids; people who depend on you, love you, give you a reason to get out of

junk DNA not really junk

We constantly need to be reminded that scientific conclusions (or opinions) at any given time really only represent "current thinking" on the subject.  In a remarkable about-face the federally-funded Encode project has come up with a startling find (though for proponents of Intelligent Design, this is no surprise)... Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles. The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches... There also is a sort of DNA wiring system that is almost inconceivably intricate... The big surprise was not only that almost all of the DNA is

moralistic therapeutic deism (MTD)

In 2005 two sociologists, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, published a book,  Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers  (Oxford, reprinted 2009). They conducted a comprehensive study of religion and teenagers, and discovered a newly dominant creed that they called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). Rather than transformative revelation from God, religion has become a utility for enhancing a teenager's life.  They lay out five points of MTD : 1. A God exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth. 2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. 4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem. 5. Good people go to heaven when they die.  See the Wikipedia entry here .   This helps us in w