Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Speech in Community: Proverbs 11:9-15, Additional Observations and Commentaries

5 Ws

Who?  As with [virtually?] all of the biblical proverbs, humankind is divided into two distinct groups: on the one hand, the knowledgeable, trustworthy, victorious, peaceful righteous ones; on the other hand, the destroying, unreliable, self-destructive, suffering, hypocritical wicked ones.

What? Speech, in its various iterations [seen in yesterday's outline], leading to the up-building or destruction of a community.

Where? “The city,” which seems indicative of “city-states” or communities bound together by common interests.

When? As with (at least) most of the biblical proverbs, this series of proverbs expresses timeless truth.

Why? Speech both reveals and shapes hearts. Choosing to speak, to speak in a certain way, or to remain silent promotes trust, unity, and peace or distrust, disunity, and disharmony.

How? Again, it is speech that reveals what it in the heart and communicates one person’s thoughts, feelings, and desires to another. Those thoughts, feelings, and desires communicated by speech, which prompts actions, shape the motivations, plans, and cohesiveness of a community.

So what? Within our families, our churches, and our broader communities, we must strive for and promote wise speech for the sake of society. A strong, peaceful society promotes gospel proclamation (1 Tim 2:1-4).


NET Bible: 11:9 “godless:” [This word] later developed the idea of a “hypocrite”…

Geneva Bible: 11:9 “hypocrite” [“godless”]: A dissembler that pretendeth friendship, but is a [secret] enemy. 

Matthew Henry Study Bible: 11:11 By the blessings with which they bless their neighbors, their advice, their examples, their prayers– by the blessings with which God blesses others for their sake. 11:12 “a man of understanding:” That has rule over his own spirit, if he be provoked, holds his peace.

Believers’ Study Bible: 11:4 “Righteousness” may deliver from temporal death, but it always frees one from eternal death. 11:13 Even when information is accurate, one is to avoid talebearing. The NT clearly defines how to deal with a brother’s fault. Reproof is to be done privately (Matt 18:15; Gal 6:1) with the individual and then [if proper reproof is heeded] concealed from all others. 11:14 Only the foolish man depends entirely upon his own judgment. The wise man not only weighs a matter before God but also invites the counsel from those who, spiritually and experientially, can offer assistance.

Reformation Study Bible: 11:10 A viable society must have some recognition of right and wrong and of reward and retribution. Without descending to vindictive revenge, there is a proper rejoicing when the perpetrators of evil, corruption, and human misery are destroyed.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Speech in Community: Proverbs 11:9-15, Initial Outline

[Lord willing, I will be teaching from Proverbs 11:9-15 this Wednesday night at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. Below is my initial outline in studying through the text.]

I.      Slander (v. 9)
A.   The Destructive Speech of the Godless (v. 9a)
B.    The Knowledgeable Speech of the Righteous (v. 10b)

II.    Rejoicing (v. 10)
A.   Rejoicing With the Victorious Righteous (v. 10a)
B.    Rejoicing Over the Defeated Wicked (v. 10b)

III.  Blessing/Cursing (v. 11)
A.   Blessing of the Righteous, Which Exalts a City (v. 11a)
B.    Curses of the Wicked, Which Destroy a City (v. 11b)

IV. Silence: A Blessing or a Curse
A.   Complaining/Silence (v. 12)
1.     Senseless Complaining About Neighbors (v. 12a)
2.     Silence Concerning Others’ Perceived Faults (v. 12b)
B.    Talebearing/Silence (v. 13)
1.     The Untrustworthy Reveal Secrets (v. 13a)
2.     The Trustworthy Keep Appropriate Confidence (v. 13b)
C.    Counsel (v. 14)
1.     Lack of Counsel Results in Destruction (v. 14a)
2.     An Abundance of Counsel Promotes Victory (v. 14b)
D.   Guarantee (v. 15)
1.     Guaranteeing the Character of a Stranger Leads to Suffering (v. 15a)
2.     Refusing to Offer a Guarantee for Others Promotes Peace (v. 15b) 


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sermon Notes from "In Exile and at War: The Christian Life Before God and Man." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 2:11-12.

I. Introduction: "If Necessary Use Words" [?]

A. NOT said by St. Francis Assisi (to whom it is attributed): see "Speak the Gospel" by Mark Galli)

B. NOT biblical
1. The good news is a historical reality that must be proclaimed.
2. Transformed lives testify to the power of the gospel, but our lives are NOT the gospel.
3. Transformed lives will cause others to inquire concerning the source of the transformation, but then we must actually proclaim the gospel.
4. Evangelism require making disciples through teaching, etc.

II. "Abstain from Sinful Passion" (v. 11)

A. "Beloved"
1. Peter does not personally know [at least the majority of] these readers: this is a circular letter.
2. Peter's love is based on the fact that fellow believers are, like him, united to Christ.

B. "Sojourners and Exiles"
1. Physically: dispersed Jewish Christians
2. Spiritually: awaiting the consummation of redemption

C. Christian living is always to be done in accordance with our identity:
1. united to Christ;
2. redeemed from sin.

D. "Sinful Passion"
1. Our culture promotes living according to unbounded desire.
2. Due to the Fall, at our core, we desire wrong things, and even when we are redeemed, wrong desires remain.

E. Christians cannot be pacifists regarding desire.
1. We cannot unthinkingly entertain and pursue whatever desire occurs to us.
2. We must engage in warfare against sinful desire.

III. "Live Holy Lives Among Unbelievers" (v. 12)

A. "Conduct:"
1. The way we live.
2. This assumes that believing the gospel changes the way we live.
a. We must acknowledge that we are repenting sinners.
b. We must be willing to ask forgiveness when necessary.

B. We will be falsely accused.
1. Historically, Christians have been falsely accused of:
a. Cannibalism, due to unbelievers misunderstanding the Lord's Supper;
b. Incest, due to Christians calling fellow believers "brother" and "sister."
2. We must, like Jesus when He was falsely accused, respond to false accusation in a way that honors God.

C. "Glorify God"
1. Our godly response to false accusation provides additional opportunities for gospel witness.
2. The way that we respond to false accusation points to the truth of the gospel.

D. "The Day of Visitation"
1. Our confidence comes from our knowledge that Christ is coming.
2. God has provided us with an "amazing opportunity" for evangelism as we wait for the Lord's coming.

IV. Conclusion

A. Good deeds must be based upon the gospel.

B. We cannot assume the theology of those doing good deeds: Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons may seem to have strong family commitment, etc.

C. We must proclaim the true gospel.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Grace in the Koran and the Bible

Recently, I completed reading through the Koran for the first time [I don't know that I will ever read it cover-to-cover again, but I do hope to re-visit several sections], and I noticed several points of significant contrast between the Koran and the Bible.

One of the most striking contrasts is the presentation of "grace" in each of these competing sources for spiritual authority. "Grace" in the Christian Protestant tradition has consistently been defined as "God's unmerited favor;" "grace" may even be understood as "contramerited favor" because our works have not earned merit before God, but rather earned God's wrath, since they are all characterized by sin (even our best works fall short of God's glory, as we consistently fail to love God heart, soul, and mind, and love neighbors as ourselves). This understanding of grace is based upon several Bible passages, perhaps most famously Ephesians 2:1-10, in which it is crystal clear that we are all naturally "dead in [our] trespasses and sins"  and "by nature children under wrath," AND YET God expresses favor toward us and graciously rescues us from our sins, granting us spiritual life.

On the other hand, Surah 11:3 in the Koran declares:

"Seek the forgiveness of your Lord... and [Allah will] bestow His abounding grace on all who abound in merit!"

The picture of grace consistently presented in the Koran [I think this will be evident in subsequent posts as well] is that the sinner must first begin good works-- "abound[ing] in merit"-- and only then will Allah grant His favor to the sinner.

Have you ever TRIED to live a life free from all sin, and give yourself out in good works? Indeed the Christian DOES forsake sins and do good works-- Ephesians 2:10 declares that believers are "created in Christ Jesus for good works" [emphasis added]-- but these works are based on the realization that God has already saved us, and we realize that we continue to need (and receive!) God's grace as we fall short. This is good news.

I would argue that the Koran's understanding of grace-- in which we sinners must somehow EARN the favor of a holy God-- in NOT good news, but rather a path to increasing spiritual bondage.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Deuteronomy 29-30: Sovereignty, Accountability, and Hope

But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. (Deut 29:4 ESV)

The above verse is remarkable in demonstrating the biblical proclamation of divine sovereignty (i.e., God is in control of all things absolutely) and human accountability (i.e., that any evil we commit is our own fault). The LORD is the subject of this sentence; He is the one who is [not] performing the action of giving the necessary desires, perceptions, and understanding of spiritual matters. And yet this sentence comes in the context of an accusation against the nation of Israel under Moses. The people had seen the wonders the LORD had performed in rescuing them from Egypt, they had heard His voice at Sinai, they had partaken of His provision in the wilderness; they had every reason to value the LORD above all, to seek His ways, and to trust Him wholeheartedly. Yet they turned away; they didn't want to see, hear, or know. Called by the voice of God, they had ruptured their own eardrums rather than hear; confronted with the beauty of God, they had gouged out their own eyes rather than see; courted by the love of God, they had driven knives into their hearts rather than feel. And (as Augustine explained) just as the man who commits suicide has the power to take his own life, yet after taking his life, has no power to restore it, the Israelites, giving themselves to sin, had no power to save themselves. So God-- the Holy Lawgiver and Judge of Creation-- was under no obligation to grant new hearts, eyes, and ears to these rebels.

The good news is that, in His mercy, God does for sinners what we cannot do for ourselves.

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (Deut 30:6 ESV)

We, like those ancient Israelites, hardened our hearts to every advance of God's love. Even if intellectually convinced that loving the LORD would be beneficial, our love for sin made our hearts hard, and we constantly fell short of giving Him the affection and glory He so richly deserves. But Christ paid for our transgressions-- He took the penalty for our rebellion by dying on the Cross-- He was buried, and then He rose again, showing that He had conquered sin, death, and Hell out of love for God and love for us. And now He gives the Holy Spirit to all who will believe on Him-- He burns away the dross of carnal affections, and He reshapes our desires-- that we may love God rightly and receive His promises.

If you are reading this and you have not already done so, then I beg you: turn from your sins, do not harden your heart again, but believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and find salvation.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chick-Fil-A: Much More Than Comments Concerning Traditional Marriage

I'm happy to see so many of my fellow Christians supporting Chick-Fil-A [CFA] in light of the recent comments from CFA President Dan Cathy in favor of "the biblical definition of the family unit."

The media, along with certain celebrities and politicians, have taken Cathy's comments to be against so-called "same-sex marriage." But I would encourage anyone reading this (who has not already done so) to also research the positive steps CFA has consistently taken in support of healthy, loving families: steps like supporting adoption fundraisers. Through the Winshape Foundation (an organization established by Truett Cathy, which is promoted by and closely tied to CFA), stable homes have been provided to children who would otherwise be bounced around the foster-care system, under-privileged children have had the opportunity to attend summer-camps, and leadership initiatives-- focusing on helping the poor, the orphaned, and the abused-- have been developed.

It is strange that "same-sex marriage" has become such an important cause to some people, that when the president of an organization says makes a statement that may be taken to imply he does not support the re-definition of marriage-- a statement based on his personal religious conviction-- those people are willing to protest, boycott, severe ties from, and ban that organization, overlooking all the good they do every day.

[See also: Dr. Denny Burk's "Chick-Fil-A and the Irony of the Tolerance Police."]


Monday, July 23, 2012

Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity

At the recent CiRCE Conference, one of the presenters argued that classical music can capture a kind of grandeur that is impossible to attain in pop music. The example that he gave was Gustav Holst's "Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity," and he played a recording of this composition. Regardless of whether one fully accepts the proposition put forth by the presenter, it is impossible to deny the majesty of this tune.

 A section from "Jupiter" was used in the British hymn, "I Vow to Thee My Country:"

Neither of the above compositions were written for the purpose of exalting Christ: the idea for "Jupiter" apparently came about through a discussion of astrology, and "I Vow to Thee My Country" is a patriotic tune. But somehow the effect of these compositions, executed so masterfully, seem to give the hearer a sense of awe, which the Christian realizes is properly directed to our Lord.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sermon Notes from "The People Mercy Made: Heralds of the Excellencies of God." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 2:9-10.

I. Introduction:

A. Individualism

B. The Church Gathered

C. Love for the Church

II. The Identity of the Church

A. God has always had a people.

B. Peter applies Old Testament descriptions to the New Testament Church.
1. Chosen by God:
a. The People Chosen by God (Isa 43:1-10)
b. Christ as the Chosen One (1 Pet 2:4)
c. Not All Ethnic Israel was Chosen (Rom 9:6-7)
2. Exodus 19:5-6.
a. Royal Priesthood:
i. Not Only a Certain Group, but the Entire Church
ii. We offer sacrifices of praise.
b. Holy Nation:
i. Holy living is a response to God's redemptive work.
ii. We are a nation called out from the nations.
c. A People for His Own Possession:
i. A People Bought With a Price
ii. Again, holy living is based on God's redemptive work.

III. The Mission of the Church

A. We proclaim God's excellencies.

B. Proclaiming God's excellencies is complementary to our work of "making disciples."

C. God's excellencies are most clearly seen in the work of Christ.

IV. Reception of Mercy

A. God has been gracious in giving us what we did not deserve.

B. Conversion brings about an astounding change.

C. Hosea 1:6-9.

V. Conclusion:

A. Flee the bankrupt and delusional promises of sin.

B. Put on the new man; put on Christ.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

"Hang His Body on a Tree"

22 “If anyone is found guilty of an offense deserving the death penalty and is executed, and you hang his body on a tree, 23 you are not to leave his corpse on the tree overnight but are to bury him that day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. (Deut 21:22-23 HCSB)

The phrase "hang his body on a tree" in the above text does not refer to 'hanging by the neck 'til dead,' as the casual American reader might suspect, but to affixing the body of an already executed criminal upon a tree for public display.

Displaying the bodies of executed criminals has been a common practice of many societies. Following the slave uprising upon which the movie Spartacus is based, the Romans lined the streets with crosses: with crucified rebellious slaves upon them.

Similarly, the Caribbean colonies would gibbet pirates.

Displaying the bodies of executed criminals or fallen enemies was meant to be a warning to others and a proud display of national might. It is in this connection that the Philistines hung the body of King Saul (and the bodies of his sons from the walls of Beth-shan):

10 Then they put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and hung his body on the wall of Beth-shan.
11 When the residents of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their brave men set out, journeyed all night, and retrieved the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. When they arrived at Jabesh, they burned the bodies there.13 Afterward, they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days. (1 Sam 31:10-13 HCSB)

The people of God were not to engage in such a callous, boastful display.

The justice of God required death in some cases, and those who had earned the death penalty were under God's curse. A proud exhibition of those who had been executed would tend to harden the hearts of a people who became used to seeing such a thing: such an exhibition would lead to the nation glorying in their own power rather than humbly trusting in the justice and mercy of God.

It is the height of folly that the Pharisees, apparently with this text in mind, are so eager to have Jesus' body taken down from the Cross before the Sabbath:

31 Since it was the preparation day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the crosson the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special day). They requested that Pilate have the men’s legs broken and that their bodies be taken away.

Having called for the crucifixion of the Lord of glory-- who had stood before them as an innocent Man-- thus perverting God's justice to the utmost extreme, these religious leaders miss the entire point of God's Law and treat it as if it were some pagan book of magic: as if, ignoring God's character, they might follow certain ceremonies and thus obligate God to bless them.

It was not the sinless Christ who deserved God's curse, but the Pharisees. It was not the sinless Christ who deserved God's curse, but WE DO. I deserve His curse AND SO DO YOU, dear reader: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). We have all violated God's character: we have all lied when we should have told the truth; we have all acted hatefully or with envy or selfish lust when we should live in pure others-directed self-giving love, etc. We all deserve God's curse; we all deserve the death penalty. The good news is:

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. (Gal 3:13 HCSB)

Jesus became a curse for us. Jesus obeyed the Law that we broke, He died the death that we deserve, then He rose again on the third day, showing that He is the victor over sin, death, and Hell. Jesus ascended to His Father in Heaven, and now He offers eternal life to all who turn from their sins and believe in Him.

Trust in Jesus today!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Growth in Bible Intake and Learning

Just as there is no substitute for proper diet and exercise if one wants to be physically healthy and strong, there is no substitute for the spiritual disciplines if one desires to grow spiritually. The spiritual disciplines, as explained by Dr. Donald Whitney, are: Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. There are different ways to pursue each of these disciplines; the following commitments have been helpful in my personal "Bible intake" and "learning."

Bible Intake: Taking Time to Pursue Questions of the Text

A commitment to read through the Bible in a year (or in two years, depending on the schedule you use) is a good thing, but some people can become so focused on reading Scripture cover-to-cover every single year that they virtually never take the time to slow down and contemplate what they are reading. I have experienced this myself: I will be reading several chapters on a yearly schedule, and I will have questions about certain verses in those chapters, but the next day I am on to the next set of chapters and my previous questions are forgotten.

It is good to consciously allot some time to consider questions arising from the text, even if it means that there are some years in which you do not complete a reading of Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. Writing down at least some of the questions that come to mind while reading the Bible, and then diligently, prayerfully seeking the answers to those questions can lead to greater confidence in the Word of God and greater understanding of how different Bible passages relate to one another.

(To see one example of where I have worked through a text that I initially found difficult, read "Faith Seeking Understanding: Deuteronomy 22:28-29." Tim Challies also occasionally works through difficult texts on his blog; for example, see: "Does Genesis 2 Contradict Genesis 1?")

Learning: Taking Time to Dig Into Specific Doctrines

Pick a doctrine from systematic theology, and take a year to carefully study that doctrine. Seek to understand what the Bible has to say about the specific doctrine that you pick, and then turn to Church Fathers and theologians, seeking to understand what they have to say about the relevant Bible texts. Examination of a particular doctrine can be a great help to evangelism; if you have carefully studied the Trinity, you will be able to provide a much more confident and effective testimony to any Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, or Muslim that you might meet. Examination of a particular doctrine can be a great help to worship; if you have carefully studied God's sovereignty and providence, then you will be better equipped to give God all the glory for any good thing that happens in your life as well as retaining confidence in Him during the trials of life.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Notes from "A Contemplation of Creation, Part 1" by Andrew Kern

Today through Saturday, I am attending the CiRCE Conference along with other tutors from Sayers Classical Academy. To be transparent: I was not sure what to expect from this conference, and I was not thrilled about going to it. My attitude quickly changed, however, with the presentation delivered by the first speaker, CiRCE Institute president, Andrew Kerns. Below, I include the outline-notes that I wrote during his presentation. The entire presentation was beneficial. Perhaps the most captivating part was when he discussed univocal, equivocal, and analogical methods of instruction; I had heard these terms in my linguistic classes and theology classes, but the connections that he made were new (at least to me) and enlightening.

Genesis 1:1-5; 24-28.

I. Introduction: Reading

A. Approaching the mind of the Maker

B. Analogous knowledge

II. Reform (thoughts from the work of David Hicks)

A. The teacher, not the curriculum, needs to be the focus of reform.

B. Classical education can be a means of cultural advance rather than retreat.

C. "Inquiry" is key.

III. Two Habits of Mind

A. Normative: There is a habit of mind that orders and is not opposed to the analytical.

B. Analytical: focuses on measurability.

IV. Urgency (thoughts from "The Mind of the Maker" by Dorothy Sayers)

A. A "synthesis of life" is necessary.

B. A purely analytical approach is unworkable.

V. Two Myths

A. The Myth of Violence:
1. Creation is a work of art, attained by wisdom.
2. Wisdom delights in the sons of men (from Job).
3. The glory of original creation has been invaded by violence.
4. We believe that the ordering principle of creation is a Person.
5. The serpent used words, in a twisted imitation of God, to bring violence into creation.
6. We are an image-- necessarily imitators-- showing forth either God or Satan.

B. The Myth of Peace:
1. Sometimes we are disappointed in others because we think we have found our model.
2. Preparation is key to successfully leading a class of imitators.

VI. Two Paths of Violence

A. Logos w/o Incarnation
1. Univocal
2. Attacking
3. "Do as I say, not as I do."
4. Inflexibility
5. Big brother in "the Prodigal Son"
6. Reduces everything to the analytical
->Imaging the Logos to our classroom properly means that we respond to the needs of our students.

B. Incarnation w/o Logos
1. Equivocal
2. Fleeing
3. Hates the Logos: the permanent, boundaries, definition
4. Like instruments playing with no direction
5. Little brother in "the Prodigal Son"

VII. The Analogical

A. Humans are to be the "bond of unity" in creation (cf. Maximus Confessor).

B. We cannot impart wisdom; we strive to impart the love of wisdom (philosophy).


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rapture: Joyous, No Secret

"Rapture" is not a word that is found in Scripture, but it is a summary of an eschatological concept. ("Eschatology" meaning "the study of the end-times.") "Rapture" comes from a word meaning "caught up." Theologian R.C. Sproul defines "rapture" as "the miraculous transportation of all living Christians to Heaven at the return of Jesus."

A key biblical text for understanding the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Notice what this passage teaches about the rapture:

1. The rapture will not be secret: it will be announced with "a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, with the sound of the trumpet of God" (1 Thess 4:13).

2.  Again, there is no hint in this text that the glorified Lord will be invisible or concealed when He returns to rapture His people; also, compare Acts 1:11b, "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven."

3. The historical background of this rapture passage seems to refer to the people of a city rushing out to meet their conquering king, joyfully joining him as he parades victoriously into the city.

[HT:: "What is the Rapture" by R.C. Sproul]


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Encouragement for the Redeemed

“When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you (Deut 20:1 NASB)

In this passage, God's Old Covenant people are preparing to go into the land of Canaan in order to literally make war on the people there, driving the Canaanites, etc., out of the Promised Land. God's giving the land to the Israelites was not based upon their own righteousness, but due (at least in large part) to the great wickedness of the people that were currently inhabiting the land (Deut 9:5). Israel was not some awesome military force-- humanly speaking-- rather, the nation was made up of the descendants of slaves and shepherds: they were people who had spent their entire lives as nomads in the wilderness. And so the command to conquest was intimidating in the extreme. God encourages His people through reminding them of the great work He had done in securing their redemption.

In the New Covenant era, the Church is not called to fight as a military: as a Church, we are never to take up arms-- swords, guns, etc.-- to seek the harm of nations or people-groups, yet we do have have a spiritual battle before us;  "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph 6:12 NIV 1984). Our struggle is as intimidating as the task before the ancient Israelites, for the forces of this world, the Devil, and even our old sinful desires are all set against us; we have been promised trouble (John 16:33) and persecution (2 Tim 3:12) as we seek to live for God and proclaim the saving message of Jesus Christ.

Again, God encourages His people through reminding us of the great work He has done in securing our redemption. Rhetorically, the Apostle writes: "[Since God] did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom 8:32 NASB) Jesus was delivered over to death on our behalf to accomplish our redemption. Having done this mighty work, having made this great sacrifice, God will certainly be faithful to see that we are granted everything necessary to be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom 8:29). Our great struggle-- our struggle against sin, our struggle to find peace and meaning in life, our struggle to bring glory to God-- will end in victory.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sermon Notes from "A Living Stone Laid in Zion: How Jesus Becomes a Rock of Salvation or Stumbling." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

1 Peter 2:4-8.

I. Introduction

A. "It will always cost you more NOT to follow Christ."
1. This may not always be apparent in this present age.
2. Taking the long view, we see that any earthly cost is worth following Christ.

B. Peter calls us to take the long view.

C. Taking the long view, we will not see sin the same way.

D. Coming to Christ is NOT:
1. Walking an aisle;
2. Praying a certain prayer;
3. Being born in a Christian home.

E. Coming to Christ is believing the gospel.

II. Those Who Trust in the Living Stone (vv. 4-6)

A. "Stone" or "rock" should remind us of certain OT texts.

B. The "living stone" is:
1. "Rejected by men;"
2. "Chosen and precious" "in the sight of God."

C. Christ is named the "living stone" in contrast to pagan idols, which are dead stones.

D. The temple of God is no longer a building, but a people.

E. The priesthood now extends to all believers.
1. We do not make sin offerings, as Christ made the ultimate offering.
2. We bring sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving.

F. Isaiah 28:16.
1. Christ is the cornerstone.
2. We will not be put to shame in the Final Judgment, though we may now be ostracized.

III. Those Who Reject the Living Stone (vv. 7-8)

A. Psalm 118:22.
1. The Jews believed that Jesus was not qualified to be the Messiah.
2. "Living stone" should be understood as connected with the "cornerstone;" Christ was manifested as this "stone" in the resurrection.

B. Isaiah 8:14.
1. Stumbling is due to disobedience.
2. Even disbelief and rejection of the gospel is not outside of God's sovereign control (we saw earlier in 1 Peter that God is sovereign in salvation.

IV. Conclusion

A. Matthew 21:33-46.

B. Will Christ be your refuge, or will you stumble over Him in the judgment? There is no third way.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Crucial Key to Evangelism: Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit

An excellent quote from the book we're studying in Sunday school at Kosmosdale Baptist Church-- The Brokenhearted Evangelist-- about not grieving the Spirit (Eph 4:30) in other areas of our lives while seeking to be faithful in evangelism. 
[I]f no conversion takes place outside or beyond the work of God's Holy Spirit, then it is utterly indispensable that we do not grieve the very One upon whom the joy of our salvation and the consistent life of godliness depend, when those things are the very foundation upon which our testimony to fallen people is built.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Sermon Notes from "A Vision of Seventy Sevens, Part 1: The Angel, Anointed One, and Atonement." Sermon by Mitch Chase.

[From the 10:45AM worship service this past Lord's Day at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

Daniel 9:20-24.

I. Intro. The Calamity of Exile:

A. The Mockery of the Nations;

B. Prayer for a New Exodus.

II. The Arrival of Gabriel:

A. While Daniel Was Yet Praying, At "the Time of the Evening Sacrifice"
The sacrifices were not being conducted at this time, but they were on Daniel's mind as he was praying for the restoration of the temple.

B. Daniel is the only OT book in which Gabriel is mentioned by name.

C. Gabriel arrives as an answer to Daniel's prayer; he arrives due to God's love for Daniel.

III. The Reason for Gabriel's Arrival:

A. To reveal:
1. That God will deal with sin;
2. The Holy One.

B. "Seventy Sevens:"
1. Related to the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25;
2. Fulfilled in the Person and Work of Christ.

IV. Gabriel in Luke 1:

A. Gabriel is named in this NT text.

B. This is the only other place in Scripture in which Gabriel is named, and his appearance is meant to recall Daniel's prophecy.


Sunday, July 08, 2012

Proverbs 10:18-32, Outline and Notes

[Lord willing, I will be teaching from this text this coming Wednesday evening at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

Proverbs 10:18-32.

I. Righteous Speech (vv. 18-21)

A. Sins of Speech
1. Slander (v.18)
2. Babbling (v. 19)

B. Speech and the Heart (v. 20; Luke 6:45; Matt 15:18)

C. Righteous Speech Brings Blessings to Others (v. 21)

->Blessing, Wealth, Lack of Sorrows (v. 22)

These proverbs presuppose that God has established the world in a certain way. Blessings are promised that reflect God's character for His glory (Deut 9:5; 26-29).

Definitionally, proverbs are given as timeless truths applicable to people everywhere, yet it seems significant that these sayings are recorded during the Old Covenant administration; the time and place of when these proverbs are given seem to have a bearing on the relationship between "blessing" and "wealth"and on dwelling "in the land" (v. 30).

How do "the blessings of the LORD" make one rich? The connection is not explicitly stated in the text, but Solomon's life gives an example that sheds some light on how this proverb operates in life

II. The Wicked and the Righteous (vv. 23-25)
[The righteous man finds...]

A. Pleasure in Wisdom (v. 23)

B. Fulfilled Desires (v. 24)

C. Security (v. 25)
Calamity is the result of sin... "[Jesus] calls his audience to repentance [Luke 13:3]... repentance is the only way to avoid eternal death, a fate that will fall upon everyone who does persist in sin." [G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 333.]

->The Sluggard (v. 26)

III. The Righteous and the Wicked (vv. 27-30)
[The righteous man has...]

A. Long Life (v. 27)
Again, "we must keep in mind the general-principle nature of Proverbs... Some God-fearing men such as David Brainerd will die young, while some godless fools will live long lives.... [also] we must remember Proverbs' setting within the Mosaic Covenant... there was quite a list of capital-offense crimes under Moses, none of which would befall the man walking in the fear of Yahweh." [Dan Phillips, God's Wisdom in Proverbs (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Biblical Resources, 2011), 87.]

B. Hope -> Joy (v. 28)
Life and death are bound up in rightly discerning how to be found among the "righteous" rather than among the "wicked."

C. Security (v. 29)
Yahweh's justice will be a comfort and a refuge to those who embrace the wisdom mercifully revealed in Proverbs. But that same justice guarantees the destruction of those who refuse the mercy offered in wisdom's call. Yahweh sets his character on display in people's lives as he renders to them according to their works. James Hamilton, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 296.

IV. Righteous Speech (vv. 31-32)

A. Wisdom (v. 31)

B. Prudence (v. 32)


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Ed B. Young's Message Contra "Reformed Theology:" Some Questions

“I can talk over your head like that *snap*. I know the Hebrew, the Greek: I know theology; you can tell I know.” - Ed B. Young
Sunday before last, Ed B. Young-- head of the "Fellowship Church" network-- delivered a message titled "Cool-aid: Homeboy." Several minutes of this message were dedicated to warning listeners against "reformed theology." (You can listen to the relevant portion of the message below: I'm honestly not crazy about the random pictures that pop up on the Youtube video, but this is the only way I know to link to this one section of what was said.)

As someone who is Reformed Baptist by theological conviction, I suppose that Young's words were intended to be directed-- in part-- to me and my like-minded friends (although many of his implied accusations are baffling to me, and I honestly think that at points he confused "reformed theology" with "emergent theology," which is quite different).

Anyway, as I was listening to the audio of Young's words against "reformed theology" I had several questions. I emailed these questions, which I include below, to Young, and-- although I do not expect a response, because he is (I'm sure) incredibly busy-- I do hope that he gives them prayerful consideration.

[Note to readers: the following questions will not make much sense if you have not heard the anti-"reformed" portion of Young's message.]

1)    What do you mean by “reformed theology”? Who are some of the main proponents of “reformed theology”?
2)    What proponent of “reformed theology” also wears “skinny jeans” and “V-necked shirts”?
3)    In what sense does “reformed theology” often lead to a “deformed ecclesiology”? (BTW: As a Baptist, I do believe that many who have a “reformed theology” also have a “deformed ecclesiology,” but I’m wondering what you mean and how you think “reformed theology” leads to a “deformed ecclesiology”?)
4)    What proponent of “reformed theology” replaces preaching the good news of Jesus with a mere “social gospel”? (I ask especially because I have heard it claimed from others that those holding to “reformed theology” care only about preaching and not enough about doing good for the poor.)
5)    In what way is the gospel as preached by those who hold to “reformed theology” different from the gospel that you preach?
6)    Do those who hold to “reformed theology”-- according to your understanding-- not believe in John 3:16? Do they not believe in the word “whosoever”?
7)    What Bible passages speak about sinner’s “freedom of choice”?
8)    Is it true that growth in churches holding to “reformed theology” occurs due to transfer of members from other churches rather than conversions? Is this pattern of growth (due to transfer rather than conversions) more marked in churches holding to “reformed theology” than in other evangelical churches? Can you point me to some statistical research that would speak to this subject?
9)    You speak of “26 baptisms” as something virtually irrelevant; how many baptisms should a church have in order to be meaningful?
10) You mention knowing Hebrew and Greek: what specific Bible passages from the Old and New Testament (and what specific Hebrew and Greek phrases) are relevant to this subject?


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Islam and Liberal Theology

[The following is an excerpt from Thabiti Anyabwile: The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010), 10-11.]

Muslims believe that Jesus was merely a prophet, not God; they believe our good works gain us entrance into heaven. They believe that the Bible is corrupted and though it contains some words from God, it's not the Word of God. They believe substitutionary atonement is a scandal and that God would never allow His Son to suffer the horror of a blood sacrifice on the cross. Besides, they say, we're not that sinful anyway.

Don't these orthodox doctrines of Islam sound like nominal and popular misconceptions of Christianity in the West?


Monday, July 02, 2012

Sermon Notes on "From God's Face and For His Sake: Mercy and Forgiveness for Shameful Sinners." Sermon by Mitch Chase

[From the 10:45AM worship service yesterday at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

Daniel 9:1-19.

I. Introduction:

A. Praying the Words of Scripture;

B. Praying Confession and Supplication.

II. Setting:

A. The First Year of a New King;

B. Near the End of the Babylonian Captivity.

III. Prayer of Confession (vv. 3-13):

A. Praying Facing Jerusalem (as in Dan 6; see 1 Kings 8:30);

B. Prayer to God:
1. God is great and awesome.
2. God is characterized by covenant-keeping and lovingkindness.

C. Confession of Specific Sins (vv. 5-9):
1. The people had broken God's covenant.
2. God does not owe us warnings, but He often graciously gives them.

D. Confession of God as Just:
1. We deserve every consequence of sin that we receive-- and much greater consequences-- but God is merciful.
2. God was just in administering covenant curses including exile.

IV. Prayer of Supplication (vv. 14-19):

A. Daniel prays that God would turn away His wrath from His people so that His name may be glorified among the nations.

B. God cares about His name in His world: He will make a great name for Himself.

C. We do not pray because we are righteous in ourselves but because God is merciful.

D. Ultimately, the exile-- both in Daniel's day and in ours-- is not only from Israel but from God's favor due to our rebellion; God's wrath is ultimately turned back in Christ (Rom 3:25).

V. What Should We Do?

A. We should confess our sins to God.

B. We should look to Christ, who took the penalty for sin upon Himself on the Cross.