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Showing posts from 2019

new creation

"...then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."  (Genesis 2:7 ESV)  "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."  (Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)  The future hope of the Christian is "spiritual" in the sense that God's Spirit will indwell, give life to, glorify, and mediate all creation with God's holy presence.  But the new creation will not for that reason be primarily immaterial or ethereal (like harps and clouds), though there is an immaterial dimension to it.  Jesus in his resurrected body -- better, in his resurrected Self -- ate meals with his disciples, walked and talked with them, and allowed them to touch his wounds from the cross.  This was real and physical and

reading the bible in 2020

"The Word is in our pockets and on our coffee tables, like a love letter waiting to be perused or a feast waiting to be devoured." There are so many good Bible reading plans out there!  And media to match: podcasts, audio, mobile plans, etc.  I read through the Bible more rapidly every couple of years.  Like a flyover.  But in the in-between years I slow it down and focus on a couple of books, like exploring one part of the terrain in more detail.   This year I think I'm going to use the  the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) reading schedule as modified by D. A. Carson into a two-year reading schedule .   Reading about two chapters a day, this is do-able for most people.  You can cover in the first year, a) all the NT, the Psalms, and half of the OT, and in the second year, b) all the NT, the Psalms, and the second half of the OT. The pace would be about 2 chapters per day .  In our family the plan is to individually read the first chapter in the morning (quiet tim

recent articles

What if the elites are right? I appreciated this article by Samuel James, not so much because he addresses the moral suitability of our current president (which is an issue), but because we evangelical conservatives need to avoid using the same kind of identity politics that we resent being used against us...  I wish so much that evangelicals would fully resist the allure of identity politics, especially the versions that seem to be popular in our conservative theological circles. Substitute the word “white” for “elite” in much evangelical political discourse, and you would end up with lengthy essays that would be logically indistinguishable from those of the wokest SJWs. Whether Galli and the staff at CT are elites has absolutely no bearing on whether they’re right about this president and the morality of supporting him. The argument fails for the same reason the common pro-choice canard about pro-life’s being “out of touch” with the physical and social trauma of unplanned preg

standard of truth and life

"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers."  (1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV)  "...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God..." (Ephesians 6:17 ESV)  "And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth."  (1 John 5:6 ESV)  Gresham Machen writes,  If we take the Bible as the Word of God, then the Bible becomes our standard of truth and of life. When we are asked whether we can support any kind of message or can engage in any course of conduct, what we do is simply to compare that message or that course of conduct with the Bible. If it agrees with the Bible, we can support it or follow it; if it does not agree with the Bible, we cannot support it or follow it no matter what we may be told by other authorities to do. ... Our standard is n

Christ and revelation

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ... No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." (John 1:14, 18 ESV) Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'"?  (John 14:8-9 ESV) In reflecting upon Jesus Christ being the ultimate revelation of God, here are a few highlights from the third volume of Carl Henry's magisterial work, God, Revelation and Authority :  "In Jesus Christ the source and content of God's revelation converge and coincide."  (III:9) [The Church is] "a transnational, transracial, transcultural beachhead for the transcendent kingdom of God." (III:68) &qu

the supernatural element

The supernatural element in the Gospel picture of Jesus has proved to be an integral part of the whole. It cannot be separated from the rest in that easy, artificial way. The Gospel picture of Jesus is supernatural through and through. They are telling us that we cannot know anything at all with any certainty about Jesus. Such skepticism is preposterous. It will never hold the field. You need not be afraid of it at all, my friends. The picture in the Gospels is too vivid. It is too incapable of having been invented. It is evidently the picture of a real person. So the age-long bewilderment of unsaved men in the presence of Jesus still goes on. Jesus will not let men go. They will not accept His stupendous claims; they will not accept Him as their Savior. But He continues to intrigue and baffle them. He refuses to be pushed into their little molds. They stand bewildered in His presence. There is only one escape from that bewilderment. It is to accept Jesus after all.

the virgin birth of Jesus

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel' (which means, God with us)". (Matthew 1:22-23 ESV) John Frame writes of the doctrinal importance of the virgin birth (or more accurately, virginal conception) of our Lord Jesus. Specifically, he lists five reasons this truth is vitally important .  The consistency of this doctrine with other Christian truth is important to its usefulness and, indeed, to its credibility. For Matthew and Luke the chief importance of the event seems to be that it calls to mind (as a “sign,” Isa. 7:14) the great OT promises of salvation through supernaturally born deliverers, while going far beyond them, showing that God’s final deliverance has come. But one can also go beyond the specific concerns of Matthew and Luke and see that the virgin birth is fully consistent with the whole range of biblical doctrine. The virgin birt

by faith not by sight

"...for we walk by faith, not by sight."  (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV) "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)  Over the years I have seen that faith is largely and simply taking God at his word.  We come to trust his character, the Person behind the promises, but we should never let go of the promises he has made in Scripture.  It may seem too simple, and childlike, which it is.  See Psalm 131 and Luke 18:17, for example. I have spent much time being overly concerned with my impressions, my feelings, my felt experience, and my sense of where I think (or feel) God is (or is not) and what I think he is doing (or not doing).  The Scriptures tell us over and over again that we walk by faith not by sight , and that faith is being assured and convicted of things not seen .   Faith is not a matter of being pumped up with excitement but rather walking in trust and obedience to God's word, whether we se

remaking a broken world

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"  (Revelation 7:9-10 ESV) "There are actually only two options for human society: true worship and war. Only true worship humbles human pride. False worship and war go together, because false worship exalts the worshiper, who is really only worshiping an idol of their creation or imagination. Only in worship of the true God will people be brought so low our aspirations to greatness will be removed, and our empire-building plans abandoned. Only in true worship will we live together in weakness and without pretensions."  (Christopher Ash) I am currently reading Remaking a Broken World .  The author, Christopher Ash,

the new covenant

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."  (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV) In the third chapter of his second letter to the Corinthian church the Apostle Paul gives at least eight differences between God's old covenant with Israel and his new covenant with all believers. 1)  The Law in the OT was written on stone tablets; in the NT it is written upon the heart (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:26-27).  2)  The old covenant would result in death -- due to human inability to keep it -- whereas the new covenant gives life.  3)  The new covenant has a greater glory than the old (see also Hebrews 1). 4)  The old covenant was temporary and would give way to the new (see again Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36).  The glory of Moses would fade, but the glory of the Lord Jesus -- and the glory he gives us -- is eternal.  5)  The resu

what his resurrection means

And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."   (Matthew 28:9-10 ESV) The  resurrection of our Lord Jesus is ... 1)   Proof of Jesus’ messiahship, the coronation of the Servant of the Lord to be Christ and Lord, the Prince of life and Judge (Acts 2:36; 3:13-15; 5:31; 10:42). 2)   A seal of his eternal divine sonship (Acts 13:33; Rom. 1:3). 3)   A divine endorsement of his mediatorial work, a declaration of the power and value of his death, the “Amen!” of the Father upon the “It is finished!” of the Son (Acts 2:23-24; 4:11: 5:31; Rom. 6:4, 10).   4)   The inauguration of the exaltation he accomplished by his suffering (Luke 24:26; Acts 2:33; Rom 6:4; Phil. 2:9). 5)   The guarantee of our forgiveness and justification (Acts 5:31; Rom 4:25).    6)   The fountain of numerous sp

happy veterans day 2019

Increasingly, I am thankful for my parents' service with the U.S. armed forces.  My father served in the US Air Force for 25 years, first as a pilot and then as an attorney and judge with JAG (Judge Advocate General) and retired a full Colonel.  He also helped to begin the falconry program at the USAF Academy in Colorado, where we were stationed 1958-60.   My mother served with the WASPs (Women's Air Service Pilots) for a year and then a few years as a civilian pilot/contractor to the Air Force (then called Army Air Corps).  I'm very, very thankful for all who have served or are serving in the military!

confessing Christ

"...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."  (Romans 10:9 ESV) "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name."  (Hebrews 13:15 ESV)  Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck wrote in a lyrical prose that always tempts me to arrange it poetically.  So, here's my  framing of his words about the believer's confession of Christ...  As surely as we are sincere believers,      we confess this faith throughout our whole life,  for faith cannot do otherwise:       it must confess.   It does not ask whether good works must be done;       but before the question can even arise,       it has already done them.   Confession with mouth and heart,       word and deed,       in conduct and behavior       is inseparable from the faith of the heart.   It is the fruit

the whole Christ

"This is what it means to be a Christian -- to embrace the whole Christ: the suffering Christ, the risen Christ, the reigning Christ, the coming Christ."   (John Piper)

the real problem

"The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is not a problem of physics but of ethics. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man."   ( Albert Einstein)

the abyss of wonders

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal  life."  (John 3:14-15 ESV)  "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on  me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over  a firstborn."  (Zechariah 12:10 ESV) Who would not be drawn to the Gate of Heaven, were it open to receive him? Yet nothing compels him, but that which forceth the Angels,  Commodity and Desire.  For these are things which the Angels desire to look into.  And of men it is written, "They shall look on Him whom they  have pierced."  Verily the Israelites did not more clearly see the brazen serpent upon the pole in the wilderness, than we may our Saviour upon  the Cross.  The serpent was seen with their eyes, the

to seek and to save the lost

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today."  So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.  And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."  And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold."  And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."  (Luke 19:5-10 ESV) "Open to him are a thousand ways to bring you and me to the very place and point where he desires to meet us. How many of us would have been saved, if the Lord had waited till we sought him out? Thanks be to God, he is a Savior who seeks the lost, who with eyes supernaturally farsighted discerns us a long way off,

legalism lacks

"Legalism lacks the supreme sense of worship.  It obeys but does not adore." (Geerhardus Vos, Grace and Glory )

history has a purpose and end

"Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory ."  (Matthew 24:30 ESV)  "But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."  (2 Peter 3:13 ESV) History has a purpose.  History has a beginning and it has an end.  Christ, who is Alpha and Omega, shall come again.  His return shall be personal, visible, and glorious (underlined above in Matthew 24:30).  His coming, as Carl Henry notes below, is not primarily a catastrophic cosmic event, but rather it is the fulfillment of our deepest longings (and highest hopes) for a just and beautiful world.   "But, unlike current secular projections of the end, the final thrust of biblical eschatology is never catastrophe: what the Bible affirms is that the end of this age marks also the coming of a new world.  It doe

a restored self

"Creation was not so vast a work as redemption; for it is written of man and of all things that were made, 'He spake the word, and they were made.' (Psalm 148:5).  But to redeem that creation which sprang into being at His word, how much He spake, what wonders He wrought, what hardships He endured, what shames He suffered!  Therefore what reward shall I give unto the Lord for all the benefits which He hath done unto me?  In the first creation He gave me myself; but in His new creation He gave me Himself, and by that gift restored to me the self that I had lost.  Created first and then restored, I owe Him myself twice over in return for myself." ~ Bernard of Clairvaux (1090--1153), from On Loving God.

experiencing flannery

Our reading group is delving into the writings of Flannery O'Connor.  Here are a few short quotes from various sources... “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” “All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.” “There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be  offered the chance to be restored. The reader of today looks for this motion, and rightly so, but what he has forgotten is the cost of it. His  sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether, and so he has forgotten the price of restoration."    “I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.” “Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to  recognize one.” “Your criticism sounds to me as

bible study questions

Here are Ten Bible Study questions ,  taken  from Living by the Book ,  by Howard  and William  Hendricks  ( Moody, 1991) 1.   Is there an example to follow? 2.   Is there a sin to avoid? 3.   Is there a promise to claim? 4.   Is there a prayer to repeat? 5.   Is there a command to keep? 6.   Is there a condition to meet? 7.   Is there a verse to memorize? 8.   Is there an error to mark? 9.   Is there a challenge to face? 10. Is there an attribute to praise?

exclusive because universal

"He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to  dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."  (Colossians  1:18-20 ESV)  Christianity is often seen and portrayed as being exclusive rather than inclusive, and culturally narrow rather than ethnically broad.  And yet, it  is precisely because Christianity is universal that it is therefore exclusive.  It is because Christ's work is so complete that all other ways are only  partial at best.  Herman Bavinck explains,    "Christianity is therefore the absolute religion, the only essential, true religion.  It does not grant that other religions are of almost equal worth  alongside of it.  It is, according to its nature, intolerant, even as the truth at all times is and must be opposed to falsehood.  It will not even be  satisfied by bei

a global movement

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"   (Revelation 7:9-10 ESV) Christianity is a global movement.  It is not confined to one language, one culture, or one ethnic group.  The Syrian Christians who are suffering are my family.  The North Korean Christians in prison are my brothers and sisters.  Many Iranians are even today coming to faith in Christ.  Men and women, boys and girls, from many nations are entering the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus!   I frequently have fellowship with Christians from Turkey, Kenya, and Brazil.  The Apostle Paul wrote of the church, "Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; b