Sunday, December 11, 2016

David's Promise Was Fulfilled In Christ

The LORD swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne.” (Psalm 132:11-12)

God promised King David that his throne will always be filled by one of his descendants for all time. If you look at the current state of Israel, you will see they do not have a king. So does that mean God did not keep His promise. Not at all.

God was promising a descendant of David to be on the throne, but the descendant God had in mind since the beginning of time was Jesus Christ. Tim Keller wrote, "Jesus, the greater David, has indeed come, and he has brought the presence of God into our lives-making us the dwelling place not because we have worked and earned it but because we were chosen by grace."

The Bible says that God is not slow in keeping His promises. The problem is we want to rush God. We think God should operate on our timetable and that is not always the case. The nation of Israel waited a long time for their Messiah to come and He did. However, He did not come in a way they expected.

The good news of the Christmas story is we see the promise of God fulfilled by Christ taking the throne in heaven. God kept His promise to David. Since God kept His promise, He will keep all the promises He has made as the inspired word has told us.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Is The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith?

If you are a regular visitor to Keeping The Main Thing, you have seen posts that have been adapted from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. Some of you are aware of what this confession is while some of you may not know what it is.

To help those who want a more understanding of this confession, Nathan Finn wrote an article on the history of the 1689 Baptist Confession:

The Second London Confession is the most influential Baptist confession of faith ever written. The Second London Confession was drafted in 1677 for the Petty France Church in London, during a time when Baptists and other Dissenters were being persecuted under the Clarendon Code. When William and Mary ascended to the English throne and declared religious toleration in 1688, the door was open for Dissenters to once again meet freely. The Particular Baptists held a general assembly in London in 1689 and publicly adopted the Second London Confession. Since that time, it has often been called the 1689 Confession. This year marks the 325th anniversary of the public adoption of the 1689 Confession, so it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the confession’s history and legacy.

The 1689 Confession was a Baptist revision of the Savoy Declaration (1658), which itself was a Congregationalist revision of the famous Presbyterian standard the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646). The 1689 Confession is characterized by a basically Reformed understanding of salvation and worship, a Baptist ecclesiology, a modified version of covenant theology and a “Puritan-ish” understanding of the Lord’s Day as a “Christian Sabbath.” It includes a stronger statement about the universal church than most Baptist confessions and it argues the pope is the antichrist. It is the only major Baptist confession of faith that is neutral on the question of open versus closed communion (a minority of Particular Baptist churches were open communion and even open membership—most famously, the Bedford Church pastored by John Bunyan).

Though most Particular Baptists never meticulously affirmed the document, it serves as an accurate summary of what most pastors in that tradition believed into the time when the Evangelical Awakening began affecting the Baptists in the 1770s. After that time, the influence of “Fullerism” led to a more moderate Calvinism that gradually downplayed covenant theology and allowed for wider latitude on the extent of the atonement. Charles Spurgeon, who was strongly influenced by the Puritans, published a slightly revised version of the 1689 Confession in 1855, though it did not catch on; by that time, British Baptists were focusing on downplaying the differences between Calvinists and Arminians, a trend that ultimately led to the (Calvinist) Baptist Union’s assimilation of the New Connection of General (Arminian) Baptists in 1891.

You can read the entire post here.

Be sure to check this page on Joe Thorn's website where you can read each chapter of the confession.

This video gives an introduction on 1689 Federalism:

Friday, December 9, 2016

The New Album from Folk Angel

One thing about this time of year is listening to Christmas music especially when Folk Angel brings out a new album. So here is their latest release, "Born Is The King."

How Important Is The Virgin Birth?

In a recent sermon, Andy Stanley began a new Christmas series where he said, "“If somebody can predict their own death and then their own resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world.” What he is saying is why should we be concerned with how Jesus came when, in fact, he did come and did what he said he would do.

The problem with that is Christians should be concerned with how Jesus came because the virgin birth of Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It is the fulfillment of God's promise of a Messiah ever since God told Eve that a seed would come from her to crush the serpent (Genesis 3:15). How important is the virgin birth? Kevin DeYoung recently wrote four reasons why the virgin is essential to Christianity:

First, the virgin birth is essential to Christianity because it has been essential to Christianity.

That may sound like weak reasoning, but only if we care nothing about the history and catholicity of the church. Granted, the church can get things wrong, sometimes even for a long time. But if Christians, of all stripes in all places, have professed belief in the virgin birth for two millennia, maybe we should be slow to discount it as inconsequential. In his definitive study of the virgin birth, J. Gresham Machen concluded that “there can be no doubt that at the close of the second century the virgin birth of Christ was regarded as an absolutely essential part of the Christian belief by the Christian church in all parts of the known world.” Perhaps, then, we should not be so hasty in dismissing the doctrine as a take-it-or-leave-it element of the Christian faith.

Second, the Gospel writers clearly believed that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived.

We don’t know precisely how the Christ-child came to be in Mary’s womb, except that the conception was “from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). But we do know that Mary understood the miraculous nature of this conception, having asked the angel “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). The Gospels do not present the virgin birth as some prehistoric myth or pagan copycat, but as “an orderly account” of actual history from eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4). If the virgin birth is false, the historical reliability of the Gospels is seriously undermined.

Third, the virgin birth demonstrates that Jesus was truly human and truly divine.

How can the virgin birth be an inconsequential spring for our jumping when it establishes the identity of our Lord and Savior? If Jesus had not been born of a human, we could not believe in his full humanity. But if his birth were like any other human birth—through the union of a human father and mother—we would question his full divinity. The virgin birth is necessary to secure both a real human nature and also a completely divine nature.

Fourth, the virgin birth is essential because it means Jesus did not inherit the curse of depravity that clings to Adam’s race.

Jesus was made like us in every way except for sin (Heb. 4:15; 7:26-27). Every human father begets a son or daughter with his sin nature. We may not understand completely how this works, but this is the way of the world after the fall. Sinners beget sinners (Psalm 51:5). Always. So if Joseph was the real father of Jesus, or Mary had been sleeping around with Larry, Jesus is not spotless, not innocent, and not perfectly holy. And as result, we have no mediator, no imputation of Christ’s righteousness (because he has no righteousness to impute to us), and no salvation.

DeYoung concludes the post by asking the question, is the virgin birth essential to Christianity? The answer is yes. Now, do you need to believe in the virgin birth to be saved? No. The Bible says that "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). Nowhere in scripture does it say you must believe in the virgin birth to be saved, however, this is an essential doctrine that Christians need to embrace once they are equipped with Biblical truth from a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church.

In his classic book on Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem gives us three reasons why the virgin birth is an important doctrine:

1. It shows that salvation ultimately must come from the Lord. Just as God had promised that the "seed" of a woman (Gen. 3:15) would ultimately destroy the serpent, so God brought it about by his own power, not through human effort.

2. The virgin birth made possible the uniting of full deity and full humanity in one person.

3. The virgin birth also makes possible Christ's true humanity without inherited sin.

For a pastor to say that I am not concerned with how Jesus got here is to say that things God has written and promise in Scripture is no big deal. Stanley has already made the claim that history stands a better testament than the Bible when it comes to Jesus. History is not sufficient in regards to the claims of Christianity. The Bible says God promised that a virgin will give birth to a son and we see that promise fulfilled in the virgin birth of Christ.

Around The Web-December 9, 2016

The KJV Reformation Heritage Study Bible is now available at WTS Books

WTS Books has the ESV Bible Atlas on sale till December 13

If Your Right Hand Causes You to Sin: Ten Biblical Reflections on Masturbation by Jason DeRouchie

21 Thoughts on Preaching by Jared C Wilson

“The Shack” and What It Says about Evangelicalism by Josh Buice

Hope for Change in Union with Christ by Joshua Waulk

14 Things We Learn About Jesus in 14 Verses by J.A. Medders

Aaron Armstrong's list of his favorite books of 2016

Five Reasons a Christmas Eve Service Reaches the Unchurched by Thom Rainer

Jackie Hill Perry, Sam Allberry, and Rosaria Butterfield on how to encourage honesty about sin without excusing it

Ligonier Ministries took to the streets to see what people believe about God, Salvation, and Bible.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Take Out The Root

If we want to kill sin, we must aim at the right target. That target is not merely bad behavior but the sinful desires of the heart that produce the behavior. Mortifying sin will certain bring about changes in what we say and do, but we need more than external reformation. Many people change their behavior without changing their heart to any significant degree. But Jesus is concerned about the root and motivation of sinful behavior-our drives and desires-not simply the behavior itself...The only way to kill sin is to mortify the roots of sin in the motives, desires, and drives of the heart. But to detect these desires we have to look comprehensively at our lives. You can't measure holiness by simply taking one or two slices of behavioral patterns...mortifying sin is not merely changing behavior, but rather addressing sinful desires in the heart.

Brian G Hedges, Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Does "Away In A Manger" Communicate Docetism?

Its Christmas time, which means you have Christmas music going in your house. You might have already started singing some Christmas songs in worship. There have been many Christmas songs sung in church. Some of them are great while others might be questionable.

For the past few years, I have been hearing different Bible teachers saying that the second verse of the popular Christmas song, "Away in a Manger," may not be accurate. In fact, some have said it promotes Docetism. What is Docetism? Simply put, it is the belief that Jesus only appeared human but was not actually human.

You might be asking how does "Away in a Manger" promote this idea, if it is true. Many have gotten that idea from the second verse:

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.

Think about it. As the baby Jesus was lying in a manger with a bunch of animals, he did not make a sound. As the animals make noise, He is silent. My question is, if this is true, how did Jesus communicate to his mother and father? Did he speak like the e-trade baby? Did he communicate telepathically?

The Bible does not say if he cried during His time in the manger, but the Bible does say Jesus was fully man and fully God. The Bible says, "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" (Colossians 2:9). The fullness of deity dwelt within a human body. From the beginning, Jesus was God in the flesh as the gospel of John tells us, "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" (John 1:14).

Jesus had to become a man so that He might bore our sins:

Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
so shall he sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths because of him,
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 52:13-53:6).

Jesus had to become a man to be our mediator:

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Back to the question at hand, does "Away in a Manger" communicate Docetism? I don't have a concrete answer. I know personally for me, I have not sung the second verse to this song for the past few years because I believe Jesus was human and if He is our Great High Priest who suffered like us, then I think the second verse to the song is inaccurate. I am not saying you should or should not sing the second verse, but I ask you to think about what you singing in corporate worship. As Christians, we need to be thinking people including the Christmas songs we have loved over the years.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Music Monday: Songs From Prepare Him Room by Sovereign Grace Music

The following lyric videos are from Prepare Him Room by Sovereign Grace Music.

First, we have "Who Would Have Dreamed."

Next, we have "He Who Is Mighty."

Finally, we have "One Still Night."

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Is The Bible Sufficient?

Many Christians especially those in church leadership believe in the inerrant word of God. However, there are those who do not believe scripture is sufficient. What they believe is the Bible is not enough and it needs helps. It needs movies, so catchy lingo, and even smoke machines.

Have we lost faith that the Bible is sufficient? Josh Buice talks about that in this short video:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Be Aware of Your Sin and Fight

Some think that great saints are those who rarely speak of their struggle with sin. Preachers often refer to sin in such light and even flippant ways that their congregants conclude, "Man, our pastor never talks about sin or his struggles with it; on the contrary, all he ever preaches about is victory, dominion, destiny, and success. He must be incredibly strong and spiritually mature!" I would argue this thinking is misled.

In fact, I believe that great saints are those who are acutely aware of their sin. They never rest or quit training in their fight against it...People find victory over sin are those who know it is going to be a tough, daily battle. They never stop fighting! They never accept the idea that one sin or another must always pester them for the rest of their days. Great saints wake up every day swinging and kicking, knowing that sin is ready to finish them off before they leave the house.

Yancey Arrington, Tap: Defeating The Sins That Defeat You

Friday, December 2, 2016

Around The Web-December 2, 2016

All ESV Bibles from Crossway are 50% off till the end of the year

5 Christian Clichés That Need to Die by Matt Smethurst

Why Don’t We See Miracles Like the Apostles Did? by Justin Holcomb

Let Us Repent of Our Nonchalance by Jared C Wilson

Hymns and the Sufficiency of Scripture by Ken Puls

Christmas Is Too Big for One Day by Andreas Köstenberger

Adam, Eve, the Gospel, and the Truthfulness of Scripture by Dave Jenkins

Stop Excommunicating Yourself from the Lord’s Supper by Josh Buice

Why we’re obsessed with the hit show ‘This is Us’ by Russell Moore

Recently, Jeff Medders began a new sermon series in the book of Hebrews at his church. Normally when a pastor begins a new book of the Bible, he gives a little introduction or preaches from the first couple of verse. Jeff decided to read the entire book to start off the series. So, pick up your Bible, turn to Hebrews, and read along with him.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Review: The Historcial Reliability of the New Testament by Craig L Blomberg

For centuries, people have challenged the reliability of the New Testament especially the four gospels. Many have wondered why the gospels had a lot of similarities and some differences. These challenges come from men and women who cannot accept the message of the Bible.

Craig Blomberg has written a good resource that will equip Christians to defend the faith. The book is titled, The Historcial Reliability of the New Testament. Now when one picks up the book, they might want to put it down because it is very lengthy, but it is worth it. Blomberg begins with the formation of the synoptic gospels, which are Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The reason they are called the synoptic gospels is how close they are in reading material. Blomberg continues to discuss the differences and similarities of the synoptic gospels.

Next, Blomberg deals with the gospel of John, which has a lot difference than the synoptic gospels with the exception of feeding the 5,000 and the death, burial, & resurrection of Christ. He even dives into the evidence of the accuracy of John. Blomberg goes on to deal with the rest of the New Testament which he finishes off with Revelation which does make for an interesting discussion regarding the reliability of the New Testament.

The book concludes with looking at texts outside the New Testament canon such as the Apocrypha. Then Blomberg goes into textual criticism and how the New Testament was formed. Finally, Blomberg devotes an entire chapter on the miracles of the New Testament and if miracles still happen to this day.

There is so much information in this book that my review will not do it justice. I encourage you to pick up this book and read it carefully. Don't let the size intimate you.

Thanks B&H Publishing for letting me review this book.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Podcast Wednesday: James White, Eschatology, Video Games, and more

Doctrine and Devotion speaks with James White on Apologetics and an episode on Theology

Jesus: Prophet, Priest, and King from Calvinist Batman with Richard Belcher

When We Understand The Text on John Hagee, Boxing, Studying The Scriptures, and Repentance

Apologia Radio presents Calvinists, Christmas, & Political Kerfuffle

After (RE)birth from Gotham Central

Ligon Duncan, Jeffrey Jue, Lane Tipton, and Greg Beale discuss Why Your Future Matters Now

Video Games & Church from The Reformed Gamers