Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Worship Wednesday

Powerful video taken from The Valley of Vision. "I am nothing but that thou makest me, I have nothing but that I receive from thee, I can be nothing but that grace adorns me."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lawrence on Penal Substitution

With Easter upon us and churches everywhere preaching the death and resurrection of Christ, the cries of injustice and divine child abuse ring out from liberal Christians everywhere. Below is a quote speaking to the truth of penal substitution; the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

From chapter 6 of It is Well, written by Michael Lawrence:

Penal substitution does not turn God into a cosmic child abuser. It does not reduce Christ to the passive victim of some divine injustice. It does not put the Trinity against itself. No, in the God-forsakenness of Christ on the cross, the love of God and the justice of God are revealed on our behalf. United in purpose, Father and Son act in concert to save God's people. The sinless Son of God bears our sin, and then God pours out the wrath that our sin deserves, and Jesus the Son endures it so that we, who deserve the wrath, might never encounter it. This is the gospel, the good news of the cross, and it calls is to forsake our sin, to turn away from it and embrace Christ, the forsaken one, so that we may not be forsaken.

Christian, what sin are you cherishing these days that you should not be? What sin do you feel like you just can't forsake? What obedience do you feel like you just can't make? Oh, Christian, remember that Christ was forsaken for you. In light of that, what can you not forsake? Friend, if you're not a Christian, consider what small thing it is to forsake your sin, to forsake the whole world even, in exchange for never being forsaken by God.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

God's Glory in Numbers

From Hamilton's God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment:

The point being made in all of these episodes is that Israel is in the presence of Yahweh, and they owe him praise and thanks for what he has done and how he has provided. Grumbling about circumstances, the kind of food, or who is in charge directly attacks the one who sovereignly orchestrated the circumstances, chose this food not that, and appointed the leaders who are in place. Grumbling against Yahweh suggests that what he has brought to pass is not good, or that his choices were not wise, or that he will not be able to do what he said, or that he has not been faithful to his promises. Yahweh responds to suggestions that he is not faithful, able, wise, and good—which are at the heart of unbelief—with wrathful indignation. He is a consuming fire—even with Moses. (p.117)

How true is this for us today! Every circumstance, everything that comes to pass in life is sovereignly ordained by God. A lot of people are comfortable with that truth already but don't often consider it when the grocery runs out of the steaks that were on sale! Or when you go through the drive-thru and they got your order wrong. Every circumstance is ordained. Let's try not to grumble about the ones we don't like... I didn't turn out well for the Israelites.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jesus through a Pagan

The context here is Balak is trying to have Balaam, a pagan prophet, pronounce curses over Israel. But three times God causes Balaam to bless Israel instead! They cherry on top is God using Balaam to speak of the future coming of Christ. If God can get a donkey to logically reason with its master and a pagan diviner to bless Israel, anything is possible for God.

 From Numbers 24

15 And he took up his discourse and said,
“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
    and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
    falling down with his eyes uncovered:
17 I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
    and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead[c] of Moab
    and break down all the sons of Sheth.
18 Edom shall be dispossessed;
    Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
    Israel is doing valiantly.
19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
    and destroy the survivors of cities!”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What's the Center?

 I remember a few years ago speaking with a friend about the cross of Christ. Our theology overall was similar but different enough to generate some good debates. I remember him saying to me that I was too focused on the cross. To him the cross was the tool that the Lord used to glorify Christ, thus securing salvation for us. He thought I should be more focused on that. To me the cross was and still is everything. As C.J. Mahaney addresses in Living the Cross Centered Life (read this book if you haven't!), we never move away from the cross, but instead only into a deeper understanding of it. Below is a quote from It is Well. In this passage Mark Dever addresses the Christian finding their identity in the cross and how it is the only focus of the Christian's life.

Occasionally some will accuse evangelicals of being too atonement-centered. But I don't know what it would mean to be too centered on the Suffering Servant suffering for us for our salvation. That's what makes us a people. That is our identity. Just a we saw in the last chapter, Jesus clearly understood Isaiah 53 to be talking about his life and his death. He knew that his sufferings were vicarious, that they were endured in sinners' stead. Thus, in just a few nights he would look into his disciples' eyes and say, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many" (Mark 14:24). As Paul would later put it, "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3). What would you suggest we put at the center of our focus instead of the cross?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Worship Wednesday

In spirit on Together for the Gospel going on now in Kentucky. T4G in 2010 was the first time I'd heard this song and it remains my favourite.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

God's Glory in the Exodus

I'm 107 pages in to Hamilton's God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment (only 500ish more to go!). I'm using this great book as a tool to go through the entire Bible, cover to cover, and focus on this central theme that Hamilton proposes. I've just completed the section on Exodus. Below are some of the quotes that really stuck out to me. I've had a bunch of conversations with Jude about this book and more specifically about Jim Hamilton (Jude read this book in 2012). We've both come to the conclusion that Hamilton's books are very easy to read considering how smart he is. What I mean by that is that my experience with authors who have a high level of formal education in their specific fields is that for the average person (ie. me!) they can be very difficult to read. I find I don't have any of the "inside information" that would allow me to follow their thought patterns (I don't speak Hebrew, Greek, or have a PhD in hermeneutics!). Hamilton is not this way. He is clear, concise, and his passion for the Bible is infectious. Read this book (and his others)!

But is what Yahweh does to Pharaoh just? From the perspective of the biblical authors, all humans creatures owe their Creator thanks and praise (e.g., Rom. 1:21) No human creatures successfully give God the glory and thank due him (3:23). Therefore all human creatures stand under God's condemnation. The severity of the judgement meted out matches the unspeakable evil of refusing to honor God as God and render him thanks. He does not owe mercy. The only thing he owes in justice, and the gravity of the heinousness of disregarding the infinite worth and beneficence of God calls for punishment that fits the crime. If God does not visit a just punishment, it shows that he has as little regard for himself as the creatures who have refused to honor him as God and give thanks to him. God shows his own great worth by visiting due justice against Egypt, and he shows his love by mercying Israel.

Yahweh's declaration of his name in Exodus 34, which is the revelation of his glory, informs the places in the Bible before and after this incident where Yahweh states his intention of making known to people that he is Yahweh. To know that he is Yahweh is to know that he is merciful and gracious, not clearing the guilty but punishing iniquity. To know that he is Yahweh is to know his name, his character. To know that he is Yahweh is to know his goodness—goodness that upholds what is right. If he does not uphold what is right, he is not good. If he does not keep his word, he is not faithful and cannot be trusted. Yahweh's righteousness, therefore, is an essential component of his love. An unrighteous, unfaithful god is not a loving god bur a scary, unpredictable horror in the likeness of the ancient Near Eastern deities or the gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon. But Yahweh is righteous, faithful, and loving. Even when his holiness demands the death of transgressors, this is an expression of his goodness and love as it upholds his faithfulness and shows him trustworthy.

Israel is saved through judgment, and the tabernacle, with its implements of sacrifice, makes it possible for the glorious Yahweh to take up residence—no longer outside the camp (cf. 33:7), but in their midst. Salvation comes through judgment and leads to the experience of the glory of God, a glory so overwhelming that it dictates the movements of those who perceive it. Israel has constructed the tabernacle "as Yahweh had commanded Moses." Thus, in obedience to Yahweh's word, they have built a microcosm—a symbolic picture of the cosmos on a reduced scale. The tabernacle symbolically depicts the world that God has made, and when his people obey him, God does for the tabernacle what he will do for the world: he fills it which his glory. The filling of the tabernacle with the glory of Yahweh is a proleptic enactment of the earth being filled with the glory of Yahweh. This is why the world exists.