Saturday, February 6, 2016

An Overview of Leviticus

If you are going through a Bible reading plan, either you have or about to enter in the book of Leviticus. This book has a tendency to make some Christians skip over their reading plan and go to the book of Numbers or just stop their plan altogether. This short video gives us just a brief overview into Leviticus, which I hope will help you understand the importance of it.

Creeds & Confessions Are Expressions

Back in December, I reviewed a book from R.C. Sproul, where I confessed the first time I heard the Apostle's Creed was from an Petra song called, "Creed." If you have reading reformed theologians or listening to podcast, it is most likely you have heard a creed or confession.

For most of my Christian walk, I have attended Southern Baptist churches where we don't resist creed nor hold to one, even though the Baptist Faith and Message could be considered one. If you asked most Christians what creed do they hold, they might say, "No creed but the Bible." Other might not even know what a creed is except as the name of a rock band or the latest Sylvester Stallone movie.

A creed is simply statement of Christian beliefs. A confession normally refers to something that is hidden. In the context of Christian, it is basically expressing what we believe which is made in essay form. There have been many creeds over the centuries such as the Apostle's Creed, Creed of Nicaea, and Chalcedonian Creed. There have numerous confession as well such as The Westminster Confession of Faith and the 1689 London Baptist Confession.

As I hear these sermons and podcasts, I am amazed at how some men have these creeds and confessions quoted more than the Bible, which concerns me. First, let me say this: I am not anti-creedal. I am for having creeds and confessions. Whether you are a Baptist or Presbyterian, it is good to have these so we know what we believe and where in the Bible to find them.

The problem is when they are known and, often times, quoted more than Scripture. Granted if you are doing a study on a confession that is one thing. During a sermon when a creed and confession is quoted more than the Bible, it can become a problem. What you have done is elevated those words with the same authority as the Bible. One of the Solas of the Reformation is Sola scriptura, which means Scripture alone is the final authority for the believer in faith and practice.

Creeds and confessions are expressions of our faith, not the basis for our faith. What a Christian believes comes from the Bible, not a formal statement or a series of writings outside the Biblical text.

I hope none of you took this as an anti-creedal post. What I hope you understand is creeds and confessions are important, however, they need to be put in their place which is, basically, supplemental. Creeds and confessions should never be in the same league with the Bible.

Friday, February 5, 2016

What Is "The Day That The Lord Has Made?"

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

I am sure you have heard this Psalm quoted a thousand times whether in songs or someone in church saying this is a great day to worship because God has made this day. You might have even woke up and wondered why you should get up out of bed, which leads you to quote this Psalm.

In Psalm 118, we see a hymn of praise to God for all He has done for His people. This is also a hymn of praise for God's faithfulness during Israel's time of turmoil and the actions He has taken against the enemies of God's people. The beginning of the Psalm bears a lot of resemblance to Psalm 136, which repeats, "His steadfast love endures forever."

As I was reading this Psalm the other day, in light of verse 24, I was thinking about what was that day the Lord has made. Some have suggested that it could be the festival as the nation of Israel was celebrating the victory God gave them over their enemies. Then I read a few passages along with verse 24:

I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation...This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:21, 23-24).

The Psalmist thanks God for answering their prayers and praises Him for becoming His salvation. The writer of the Psalm saw it was God who delivered him, not horses, chariots, or even princes. He goes on to say in verse 23, it is the Lord's doing. What did the Lord do? He vanquished Israel's foes.

What has the Lord done for you? There are some things He has done for us that we could not count them. We know, along with the Psalmist, they are marvelous. One thing He has done that is His doing and is marvelous is our salvation. We three times in the Bible that Salvation is from the Lord. He is our salvation and it also belongs to Him.

So when we think about the day the Lord has made, yes, you could say it applies to when you wake up because we are not to boast about tomorrow, we can say the day of meeting Jesus is the day He has made. September 13, 1992 was the day the Lord has made because I met Jesus. You may not remember your spiritual birthday, but you can still rejoice knowing God made that day. As Psalm 139:16, the Bible says, "in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

We may not know what day the Psalmist refers to, but we can still rejoice knowing, whatever comes our way, it is the day the Lord has made. For Christians, one day to celebrate is the day of their salvation which comes from the Lord.

Another day that the Lord has made is a day not yet known and that is the return of Christ, when all the wrongs in this world will be made right. That will be a day we will rejoice and be glad in.

Around The Web-February 5, 2016

Jared Wilson talks Ministry and Calling

5 Rookie Pastor Mistakes by Hershael York

5 Ways To Love Your Wife by Darrin Patrick

Paul Tripp on the spiritual battle with weight loss

The Reformed Pubcast talks with Joe Thorn about the Devil

The latest book from 9 Marks, The Church In Hard Places, is now available at Westminster Bookstore

Russell Moore on how to engage politics through hymns.

R.C. Sproul on true forgiveness.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

John Piper and Kevin DeYoung Discuss The Pursuit of Holiness

These videos are from a two-part interview John Piper had with Kevin DeYoung on how the gospel applies to personal holiness.

Recommended Reading:

The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges

The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Church Is To Teach One Another

When we think of a teaching church, we normally think of the preaching in corporate worship and/or the teaching on our Sunday School classes or small group Bible studies. While all of these are important elements in a church, there is one that seems to be neglected and that is teaching one another. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16)

This verse was written to a church, not one individual. The church is to teach one another. How can a church do that? Look at the beginning of Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." The "you" is plural in the verse. Yes, the word is to dwell within each individual Christian, but it is suppose to dwell within a church body.

We teach each other the word of Christ, the gospel, through exhortation, rebuke, and even in counseling one another. We can also teach through the songs we sing, which is why a church need to discern the theology of the songs they sing. Worship leaders need to really think about the songs they lead.

To teach one another does not require a master's degree or for you to be a skilled theologian. It requires the word of Christ. It also requires thankfulness as the end of Colossians 3:16 tells us. Teaching one another does not require the pastor or elders at all times, it requires the body having the word of Christ dwell with them no matter where the location is. You can have lunch after church and the teach one another.

It is the duty of the whole church to teach one another with the word of Christ.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: Growing God's Church by Gary L McIntosh

What worked in one generation might not work for another generation. The way things are communicated are not the same ten years ago. Cultural trends come and go along with hairstyles.

Some people say the church falls into that category as well. Think about it. What worked in the 1950's does not work in the 21st century. Gary L McIntosh in his book, Growing God's Church, talks about research that has been done over the last ten years on how people are coming to faith. McIntosh expresses that some churches have become missional with evangelism as a primary task. To be honest, I have never known a missional church that wasn't evangelistic but he does make a good point. Evangelism needs to be one of the top priorities of the church.

The gospel message brings us to believe in Christ or reject him, McIntosh expresses,and there no middle ground, which is true. In some churches we have messages where you can come to Christ without following him. If you read the Bible, you know believing in Christ means to follow Christ.

McIntosh continues to talk more on the research on how people came to faith in Christ, what led them to Christ, and what keeps them in the church. He even addresses the pastor's role in evangelism, which a pastor does have a role in reaching people for Christ but so does the entire church. He concludes the book on what steps a church need to take to be effective evangelists which some of them almost sound seeker-friendly but I know he is trying not to express that.

In short, Growing God's Church is a helpful book for those who want to see the church reaching the lost. I don't think it will make the top 10 church growth method books, but it is a decent book to read.

Thanks Baker Books for letting me review this book.

Book Review: Idols of the Heart by Elyse M Fitzpatrick

John Calvin once said that the human heart is an idol factory and he is correct. We can make an idol out of anything and anyone. In fact, idolatry was the sin that started the Fall. When Adam and Eve looked at the fruit, they found it more appealing than God Himself.

Throughout the Bible, we see what idolatry has done to the people of God. It has caused political chaos and even turmoil in the church. We also see idolatry in our day and time especially this year when we are in a presidential election.

Elyse Fitzpatrick has written a book to help our fight the idols we have created called, Idols of the Heart. Fitzpatrick takes Biblical examples of people committing idolatry and the effect it has on them. She looks at the root of the problem. Where does idolatry come from? Yes, it does come from the heart, but it also comes from our lack of love for God. The only way for us to combat idolatry is to seek assistance from the Holy Spirit.

Fitzpatrick continues on to show her readers that God should be the One we long for. God is the One who our hearts adore, not something or someone who can do absolutely nothing for us. She also teaches how we can crush our idols and delight in God alone.

Fitzpatrick is a well-known Christian counselor that many pastors recommend her books to people. I am delighted to recommend this book to all Christians as well.

Thanks PRP Books for letting me review this book.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Should We Study Other Religions?

Elliot Clark has written an interesting article on why we need to read the Qur'an this year. Some Christians may disagree with what Clark has said while others might agree. When I read this post, the question came to my mind, should Christians study other religions?

The answer to that question is yes. Why should Christians study other religions? First, to know what they believe. Missionaries study the religions of the nation they are going to so they may know how to respond with the Gospel. Same is true for us in America. Some of us may not go into the mission field but we live in a pluralistic society where there are many different religions.

Second, to identify the differences between Christianity and other religions. Take Mormonism for example. Many people think Mormonism and Christianity are the same thing. When you look at the doctrine of the Mormon church and compare it to Christianity, you will realize there is no comparison. Jehovah's Witness is another example of a religion that sounds Christian, however, when you study, you will realize that it is not the same.

I do like to throw one of caution out there for new believers. As you begin your walk with Jesus, it is important for you to know the fundamentals of the faith and being rooted in Christ. If you want to study about other religions that, I recommend you do it with a mature believer. One thing about studying Christianity and world religions together as new believer could result in mixing them all together.

What about reading religious text such as the Qur'an and the Book of Mormon? I think Christians need to know what are in those texts not the sake of intellectual knowledge, but to know what other religions teach. We have a man in our church that is studying the Qur'an for the purpose of reaching Muslims.

Should a new believer read other religious texts? I don't think they should unless they are with a mature believer or studying with a group from their church.

Recommend Reading:

The Gospel for Muslims by Thabiti Anyabwile

Mormonism 101 by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

10 Things Every Christian Should Know About Islam by Zane Pratt

How to Use the Back of a Napkin to Prove to a Jehovah’s Witness That Jesus Is God by Justin Taylor

Book Review: NKJV Prophecy Study Bible

Prophecy is one of those topics in Scripture that one must approach with caution. Reason why is because you can take a verse and make it say anything you want especially if you try to interpret it based on what you see in the newspaper or CNN. There have been many books written on prophecy but not very many study Bibles.

John Hagee, yes the blood moon guy, has produced a study Bible for those wanting to study prophecy called the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible. Don't know it is called a study Bible because, unlike most study Bibles, there are hardly any study notes from a majority of the verses. There are side notes and pages that answer some key questions regarding prophecy.

Of course, with John Hagee being the general editor, it leans towards a premillennial dispensational view of the end times. I did not find this study Bible addressing other views of the end times such as postmillennialism and amillennialism. A better prophecy study Bible would be taking the prophecies of scripture and show what each view shows.

One positive thing about this Bible, is a chart, which Hagee is known for his charts, regarding the prophecies fulfilled in the coming of Christ, which scholars, regardless of eschatology, mostly agree on. Would I recommend this study Bible to anyone? Well, you are a John Hagee fan, this one is for you. If you are not, don't waste your time. You can read one of his books to get mostly the same things.

Thanks Booklook Bloggers for letting me review this Study Bible.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Thoughts on E-Books

For the past couple of weeks, we have had two write about e-books. Tim Challies has written that he is going all in with e-books while Michael Hyatt said he is is ditching e-books. Both writers give their reasons for going the way they chose when it comes to reading books.

My purpose is not argue for either one of their cases. but I would like to share some thoughts regarding e-books and whether or not Christians should them. First, should a Christian read from a printed book or an e-book? Yes. A book is a book. I don't think we can judge one's salvation or maturity based on if he/she uses an e-reader or not. Both have advantages and disadvantages. For printed books, you can write thoughts in the book and you can get easier then an e-book at times especially when you have to wait for the e-reader to charge or until your youngest child is done using it. That's a true story, by the way.

There are times e-books are cheaper than printed books and other times free especially on Kindle. Second, should I use the Bible in my e-reader? Yes and no. Yes, when you are going on a trip and want to make sure you pack light, having the Bible on your e-reader is a plus. If you are a student, having that in your backpack might not be a bad idea especially you have one of those nice leather Bibles. Where I say no is for your own personal Bible reading and study. Yes, it does not matter if your Bible is hardback, leather bound, or even an e-book, it is the Word of God. I have found more benefit from having an actual printed Bible to read and study in than an e-version. In addition, I don't think one should be in a worship service with one. I think it would be a benefit to you and your brother and sisters around you if have a printed copy of the Bible. A printed copy of the Bible will help know where the books are in each testament.

Third, should I ditch one of over the other. That depends on you and your budget. This is not one of those you are a better Christian if you have an e-book or a printed book. I know I would personally not get rid of printed books nor would I stop using e-books. If there is an e-book that is free on Kindle, of course, I am going to download it and the same thing goes if a printed book was offered for free, I would take advantage.

One final question, is why would you use e-books only? In other words, what are your motives. Do you want to use e-books because it is the trend or because it is your best option for reading and lighter on your budget. Do you want to stay with printed books because you think technology is the mark of the beast, which I have known a few people in the church like that.

Personally, I love printed books more than I do e-books. I love the feel of a book in my hand. I don't mind using an e-book, but I prefer a printed one. Yes, it does cost more and take up space especially when you use your last empty bookshelf, but that is my preference. I also would not preach or teach from an e-version of the Bible unless it was necessary such as teaching at a church overseas. Whether or not a Christian should use an e-reader, is a matter of preference. So regardless of what kind of books you are reading, keep reading.