Friday, May 24, 2019

Christ Is Our Joy

By receiving the life of Christ, we receive the joy of Christ. That is, the joy of the Lord becomes our joy (John 15:11). What kind of joy is this? It is a “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). It is a joy that made Christ the happiest person who has ever lived (Heb. 1:9). In fact, Christ never lost His joy. Though He was “a Man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3), He was able to rejoice in the midst of His suffering.

Though Christ was called to face and carry out some difficult things, He always found pleasure in obeying God in those things (John 4:34). Even the most difficult task of all—dying on the cross—was motivated by “the joy that was set before Him” (Heb. 12:2). He was full of joy because He delighted in His Father at all times. Christ understood that in the presence of God there “is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). With His heart steadfastly fixed on God, He was anointed with the oil of joy above anyone else (Ps. 45:7). Oh, what a blessing to be able to rejoice in every situation (Phil. 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:16)! Yet what causes us to cease from rejoicing is not trials and tribulations, but sin. Sin, by its very nature, makes us miserable. It makes us distrust God. It makes us thirsty and brings discontentment into our souls because it separates us from God. Though sin continues to promise us happiness, it only intensifies our dissatisfaction with life.

The problem with sin is that it not only enlarges the insatiable appetites of our flesh but it pulls our hearts away from the Lord, the only real source of life and happiness. Thus, sin always leads to misery and death. What must we do to enter into the joy of the Lord? We must run back into the presence of Christ. We must turn our eyes away from the things of this world and gaze on the altogether lovely One. Only when we are satisfied with Christ will we be satisfied at all.

Adapted from The Pursuit of Glory: Finding Satisfaction in Christ Alone by Jeffrey D. Johnson

Around The Web-May 24, 2019

Up to 50% off on all titles from Christian Focus at WTS Books

‘Woke’ is the New ‘Saved’ by John Zmirak

Crossway Podcast: Why You Probably Need a Digital Detox with Tony Reinke

The Second Great Awakening by Stephen Nichols

The Rise of Protestant Liberalism by Andrew Hoffecker

Why it is important not to conflate prophecy and teaching in discussions about women preaching by Denny Burk

William Boekestein- The Future of Everything: Essential Truths about the End Times from Equipping You In Grace

The Plague of Lazy Pastors by David Mathis

Do You Love the Word “Propitiation”? by Tim Counts

Thursday, May 23, 2019

We Are Restored To God Because of Christ

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

Here is one of the richest, clearest, and briefest New Testament summaries of the work of Christ. Theologians describe the heart of the gospel as penal substitutionary atonement. Jesus paid the penalty for sins (penal) as a substitute in our place (substitutionary) to undo the effects of our sin and restore us to God (atonement, literally “at-one-ment”). This is precisely what we find in this verse: Christ “suffered once for sins [penal], the righteous for the unrighteous [substitutionary], that he might bring us to God [atonement].”

As beautiful as are these gospel truths, the work of Christ accomplished even more. For example, the Devil and his demons are once and for all disarmed. The caring and righteous work of Christ is also an example for us to follow, as Peter himself asserts (2:21). But penal substitution is the fundamental heart of the gospel. The other benefits of Christ’s work all flow from this.

Because of the work of Christ proclaimed in the gospel of grace, we are restored to God. The wreckage we have introduced into our lives through sin and failure and error is canceled. All is forgiven, and one day we will be with Christ in the new earth, in perfect joy.

Adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Book Review: Faith Is for Weak People: Responding to the Top 20 Objections to the Gospel by Ray Comfort

Many non-believers have questions about the gospel that believers need to answer. 1 Peter 3:15 says, "always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." We need to be ready at all times to give an answer for the hope we have. This is the responsibility for every believer not just those in leadership positions in the church. Yes, there might be some questions we may not know how to answer or just simply don't know.

Ray Comfort has written a book that addresses the top 20 objections that non-believers have against the gospel, which is titled, Faith Is for Weak People. For those who are not familiar with Ray Comfort, he is the host of The Way of the Master which is cohosted by Kirk Cameron. This show equips Christians to share their faith which for some have looked at this approach as confrontational rather than being gentle and respectful. Comfort is no stranger in sharing the gospel and has encountered many people throughout his years of street witnessing.

Comfort looks at the common objections he has encountered, which I am sure most of us have as well, when it comes to people believing the gospel. Even though, the subtitle said 20, it actually did 19 because Comfort took on the chapters and divided into two parts. Some of the issues Comfort addresses are:

If God is supposed to be in control of the world, why does it seem so out of control?

Isn't the God of the Old Testament different from the God of the New Testament?

Why are there so many hypocrites in the church?

The Bible was written by men. Don't men make mistakes?

Comfort goes through each chapter answering the common questions non-believers have for each topic. He does not take many pages to Biblically explain each one, which is good for non-believers to engage with because they probably do not want to read an huge theological book. This is also good for a believer to go with a non-believer as there are questions at the end of each chapter to engage in a conversation.

Thanks Baker Books for letting me review this book.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The New Worship War

If you have been paying attention the past couple of decades, you would notice there is a worship war that was happening in the church. This war was over the style of worship. Some were arguing over that use of hymns versus newer worship songs. Some wars were over whether the instruments should be piano and organ only versus full praise band. These worship wars have died down over the past few years, but there is a new worship war happening in the church that might be more devastating than the previous one. This is new worship war is over from where did the song come from.

At this point you might be scratching your head wondering what I am talking about. What I am saying is the new worship war is over whether or not we should use songs from churches with questionable theological beliefs. I am not talking about disagreements over secondary issues such as their views on eschatology or whether the church believes in continualism or cessationism. I am not talking about churches who have perfect theology. Lets fact it, no one on this side of Heaven has perfect theology not even Calvinists.

What I am talking about is songs from churches that preach a false gospel. Three churches that come to mind are Hillsong, Elevation, and Bethel. All three of these churches have questionable theological beliefs. Granted, some of the songs from these churches sound good. As I read the lyrics to them, they sound Biblical, but it also causes me to shake my head because I don't get it. They sing that Christ has died from them yet they preach a gospel that is contrary to the one in the Bible. I believe a church's worship and preaching should match in regards to truth. If we sing about the true gospel, we should sing about the gospel. If we preach the word of Christ, we sing the word of Christ. Colossians 3:16 says:

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.

We are to let Christ's word dwell in us and teach one another. As we teach one another with the word of Christ, we are also to teach one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, which is done through corporate worship. A study note from the ESV Study Bible says, "Corporate worship has a teaching function through the lyrics of its songs." What do your songs teach in your church? What about the use of them? Are the songs you are singing based on the gospel or emotions? Most of the modern worship songs are based on emotion rather than Biblical truth.

Some of you attend a church where it is okay to use songs from Hillsong, Bethel, and Elevation, which your elders have probably said it is okay because there is truth in them. Does that teach the church hypocrisy since you believe they preach a false gospel yet it okay to use their songs? I know a church that sings "Reckless Love," but has changed the word to "Relentless Love," but it is still the same song that is based a poor understanding of the gospel.

As I said, this is going to be the new worship war. I hope I am wrong, but it seems this will not be going away anytime soon.

Music Monday: In My Place by Kenwood Music

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Bible: The Church’s Instruction Book

All 66 books of the Bible constitute the book of the Christian church. And the church, both as a whole and in the life of its members, must always be seen to be the people of the book. This glorifies God, its primary author.

God has chosen to restore his sin-spoiled world through a long and varied historical process, central to which is the creating—by redemptive and sanctifying grace—of what is literally a new human race. This unfinished process has so far extended over four millennia. It began with Abraham; it centers on the first coming of the incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ; and it is not due for completion till he comes again. Viewed as a whole, from the vantage point of God’s people within it, the process always was and still is covenantal and educative. Covenantal indicates that God says to his gathered community, “I am your God; you shall be my people,” and with his call for loyalty he promises them greater future good than any they have yet known. Educative indicates that, within the covenant, God works to change each person’s flawed and degenerate nature into a new, holy selfhood that expresses in responsive terms God’s own moral likeness. The model is Jesus Christ, the only perfect being that the world has ever seen. For God’s people to sustain covenantal hopes and personal moral ideals as ages pass and cultures change and decay, they must have constant, accessible, and authoritative instruction from God. And that is what the Bible essentially is.

This is why, as well as equipping everywhere a class of teachers who will give their lives to inculcating Bible truth, the church now seeks to translate the Bible into each person’s primary language and to spread universal literacy, so that all may read and understand it.

Adapted from the ESV Study Bible

Around The Web-May 17, 2019

Reformed Expository Commentary Series on sale at Westminster Bookstore

5 Principles of Biblical Restitution by Alex Kocman

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Engaging Without Imbibing by John MacArthur

Doctrine and Devotion on The SBC Deep State

The Message of the Cross Is Enough by Josh Buice

The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity by Neil Shenvi

Rules for Rightly Understanding the Ten Commandments by Tom Hicks

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Justification in the Resurrection of Christ

The idea that sinners are in some sense of the word justified in the resurrection of Christ was stressed by some Antinomians, is taught by those Reformed theologians who believe in a justification from eternity, and is also held by some other Reformed scholars. This view is based on the following grounds:

By His atoning work Christ satisfied all the demands of the law for His people. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead the Father publicly declared that all the requirements of the law were met for all the elect and thereby justified them. But here too careful distinction is required. Even though it be true that there was an objective justification of Christ and of the whole body of Christ in His resurrection, this should not be confounded with the justification of the sinner of which Scripture speaks. It is not true that, when Christ rendered full satisfaction to the Father for all His people, their guilt naturally terminated. A penal debt is not like a pecuniary debt in this respect. Even after the payment of a ransom, the removal of guilt may depend on certain conditions, and does not follow as a matter of course. The elect are not personally justified in the Scriptural sense until they accept Christ by faith and thus appropriate His merits.

In Romans 4:25 we read that Christ was "raised up for (dia, causal, on account of) our justification," that is, to effect our justification. Now it is undoubtedly true that dia with the accusative is causal here. At the same time it need not be retrospective, but can also be prospective and therefore mean "with a view to our justification," which is equivalent to saying, "in order that we may be justified." The retrospective interpretation would be in conflict with the immediately following context, which clearly shows (1) that Paul is not thinking of the objective justification of the whole body of Christ, but of the personal justification of sinners; and (2) that he conceives of this as taking place through faith.

In 2 Corinthians 5:19 we read: "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses." From this passage the inference is drawn that the objective reconciliation of the world in Christ involves the non-imputation of sin to the sinner. But this interpretation is not correct. The evident meaning of the apostle is: God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, as appears from the fact that He does not impute to men their sins, and that He has entrusted to His servants the word of reconciliation. Notice that me logizomenos (present tense) refers to what is constantly going on. This cannot be conceived as a part of the objective reconciliation, for then the following clause, "and having committed to us the word of reconciliation," would also have to be so interpreted, and this is quite impossible.

In connection with this matter it may be said that we can speak of a justification of the body of Christ as a whole in His resurrection, but this is purely objective and should not be confounded with the personal justification of the sinner.

Adapted from Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Difference Between Justification and Sanctification

The following points of difference between justification and sanctification should be carefully noted:

Justification removes the guilt of sin and restores the sinner to all the filial rights involved in his state as a child of God, including an eternal inheritance. Sanctification removes the pollution of sin and renews the sinner ever-increasingly in conformity with the image of God.

Justification takes place outside of the sinner in the tribunal of God, and does not change his inner life, though the sentence is brought home to him subjectively. Sanctification, on the other hand, takes place in the inner life of man and gradually affects his whole being.

Justification takes place once for all. It is not repeated, neither is it a process; it is complete at once and for all time. There is no more or less in justification; man is either fully justified, or he is not justified at all. In distinction from it sanctification is a continuous process, which is never completed in this life.

While the meritorious cause of both lies in the merits of Christ, there is a difference in the efficient cause. Speaking economically, God the Father declares the sinner righteous, and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies him.

Adapted from Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology

Around The Web-May 15, 2019

WTS Books has a sale on 31-Day Counseling Devotionals

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What God Gives You to Fight Sin by Michael Horton

You Are Not Special, But You Are His by Scotty Smith

Rugby Player Found Guilty of ‘High Level’ Breach of Contract for Posting Bible Verse on Instagram

Ask Pastor John: Is It Sinful to Want to Die?

Were the First Christians Socialists? by Kevin DeYoung

The Everyday Relevance of Eternal Life by Matt McCullough

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Book Review: ESV Prayer Bible

Prayer is an easy yet hard thing to do. We can pray to God, but there are times we may not have the words or think we have the right words. We have examples of prayers in the Bible such as the Psalms and the Model Prayer a.k.a the Lord's Prayer. The Bible is the best place to start when it comes learning about prayer and what to pray.

Crossway has released a new resource to help believers pray as they engage with Scripture, which is appropriately titled, the ESV Prayer Bible. At first, I thought this was going to be a book with Scripture references and prayers to help believers pray, but this is not the case. It is an actual Bible with all the books with prayers from people in church history such John Wesley, George Herbert, John Calvin, Richard Baxter, and George Whitefield.

This Bible uses the popular single-column format and the font is really good which a small font is used for the prayers so that did not get confused with Scripture. Each book has a little introduction as you begin reading the Bible. There is also an introduction from Donald Whitney on how and why we should pray the Bible. There is also a reading plan, a concordance, and an index to find the various prayers in this Bible.

I am delighted to recommend the ESV Prayer Bible to everyone. I hope this resource will help you as a guide to go the Father in prayer.

Thanks Crossway for letting me review this Bible.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Gospel Unfolds Across The Whole Bible

When we read the Bible, we are powerfully reminded that God communicates as a master storyteller, using grand historical narratives, epic poetry, and complex proverbs, as well as didactic lessons and apocalyptic dreams. What holds all of these components together is the reality that God not only is the overarching Author but also is working to bring about the redemption of his people climactically in and through the life, death, resurrection, and reign of Jesus. Put simply, it is the gospel that unfolds across the whole of the Bible.

Biblical theology is the art of seeing God as both the overarching author of the biblical text and the overarching actor of redemption revealed in Scripture. In this regard, Scripture should be read with attention both to its unfolding plotline from Genesis to Revelation and also to its emphasis upon Jesus as the fulfillment of the hopes of God’s people. Biblical theology is also the art of organizing the diverse materials of Scripture by discovering and displaying the links that hold this story of redemption together. There is an inherent unity to this exercise because of the divine Author, but this is not a uniformity that suggests any one truth has been revealed all at once in only one form. The organic unfolding of the message of the Bible across its many ages reveals a perfect seed that grows by phases of design into a perfect tree. Not every dimension of the tree is manifest as it grows across the years. This “organic unity” of the Bible frees us to read each passage or book of the Bible in the context of the entire message, and to read the entire Bible in view of each particular passage.

Biblical theology begins by considering the ways in which passages of Scripture are tied together across the whole breadth of Scripture and then ascertains how certain themes unfold and develop across the whole of Scripture. In light of the abiding promise of God’s presence to Abraham in Genesis 12, for example, it becomes apparent that God’s presence comes (and becomes known) in diverse ways and times. God came to Moses in the burning bush. He came to Israel in the wilderness in the cloud by day and the fire by night. God’s presence settled on the Most Holy Place in Solomon’s temple—and entrance into the Most Holy Place came only once a year, and then only by the high priest. Climactically, God’s presence was made manifest in the flesh with the coming of Jesus. This theme of God’s presence will be consummated at the end of time in the new heavens and the new earth.

Biblical theology seeks to capture this historical unfolding of themes across the whole Bible, themes that faithfully represent God’s authorship of the grand narrative of redemption, beginning with creation and reaching a climax in the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus. The links and relationships between passages that disclose these themes should not be arbitrarily connected, nor should they wrench any passage from its original meaning. When God asks Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice in Genesis 22, surely it is not arbitrary to see the way in which this prepares for when God the Father himself offers up his Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice. The former (Abraham/Isaac) prepares us to see more clearly the latter (God the Father/Jesus).

Another example of how links and relationships in Scripture work to develop broad themes emerges when we see that all of the terms the New Testament authors use to speak of salvation are taken directly from the Old Testament. In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God has done a brand-new work—but it is a work he prepared beforehand as those concepts (redemption, adoption, sacrifice, etc.) were used to reveal and interpret God’s gracious work with his people in prior times.

Biblical theology works on the assumption that God revealed the gospel progressively over many successive eras and embedded it as the story of many diverse individuals and institutions. God’s revelation was not delivered in a static fashion, as if he were offering a lecture on theology, simply recounting details of doctrine in a linear outline. The apostle Paul cites Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:3 (“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”) because the beginning of the gospel of God’s gracious dealings with his people goes all the way back to Genesis—and the necessity of his grace becomes ever more clear in the ensuing centuries of human brokenness.

God speaks not merely that he might be known in some abstract sense but so that his relationship with mankind, rent asunder by the tragedy of sin, might be restored. In this sense biblical theology reminds us that God reveals the grand narrative of redemption not merely so that we can become theological specialists in the abstract knowledge of God and the world but rather so that we can understand the story of God’s redemption and our place in it. The goal is always to understand how God relates over time to real people in a complex and broken world so that they may love him. Such a perspective does not permit us to neglect doctrinal truths, but neither does it allow us to harbor ideas that intrigue our brains without facing our limitations or, more importantly, engaging our hearts.

Too many people read the Bible in fragmented ways, seeing only the “trees” and missing the “forest.” Biblical theology challenges us to see the “forest” and to understand that this great story of the gospel is the only story within which our lives make sense. It is our hope that this Bible will help every reader see the forest in the midst of the trees, thereby not only delighting in the beauty of biblical theology but also reaching a deeper appreciation of its spiritual fruit: a personal embrace of the grand narrative of the gospel and the God who tells it.

Adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible