Friday, December 31, 2010
Are These the Last Days
Ray Stedman playlist: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list...
Romans 13 (New King James Version)
11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones distinguishes the various different conceptions of what is the true Christian but he very clearly identifies the biblical delineation and mark of true Christianity.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Think not that you are alone in your sorrow—that there is not one in this wide, wide world, one who can appreciate your loss, or enter into all the peculiar features of your afflictions, the delicate shadings of your sadness; Jesus can, and Jesus only.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
"Love God and do as you please." That famous quote from St. Augustine has far outlived its author, but not everyone views it favorably. Some see his bluntness as irresponsible, possibly dangerous. But Augustine has solid ground to stand on. Thousands of years earlier, another theologian by the name of David said this, "Delight Yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4). Both are true. Watch, as John MacArthur explains...
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
• Luke 1:78-79
2) Surprise in Wonder (Luke 2:9-14)
• John 14:27
• Isaiah 48:22
3) Surprise in Worship (Luke 2:15-16)
4) Surprise in Witness (Luke 2:17-20)
• Psalm 107:2
For many, Christmas is the time to think of Jesus Christ as a baby in a manger. While the birth of Christ is a special and miraculous event, it isn't the primary focus. The central truth of the Christmas story is this...
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Right worship is always, and must be, the only basis for right giving and right learning and right service. Giving that is generous but done apart from a loving relationship with God is empty giving. Learning that is orthodox and biblical but is learned apart from knowing and depending on the Source of truth, is empty knowledge, like that of the chief priests and scribes. Service that is demanding and sacrificial but done in the power of the flesh or for the praise of men is empty service.
Throughout history gold has been considered the most precious of metals and the universal symbol of material value and wealth. It was used extensively in the construction of the Temple (see 1 Kings 6--7, 9; 2 Chron. 2--4). It was also a symbol of nobility and royalty (see Gen. 41:4; 1 Kings 10:1--13; etc.). Matthew continually presents Christ as the King, and here we see the King of the Jews, the King of kings, appropriately being presented with royal gifts of gold.
The Savior of the world is also the true King of the world, and He will not be Savior of those who will not accept Him as sovereign Lord. As wonderful as Jesus' saviorhood was to them, the early Christians' first known creed was "Jesus is Lord," acknowledging His rule.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Continuing his thrust to establish Jesus' right to Israel's true and final kingship, in chapter 2 Matthew gives three additional evidences of Jesus of Nazareth's legitimate, unique, and absolute royal right to the throne of David. In chapter 1 we saw the evidence of Jesus' royal genealogy and of His virgin birth. In the present chapter we first see the testimony of the magi, who came to give homage and gifts to the infant Jesus, "He who has been born King of the Jews" (Matthew 2:2). The powerful oriental kingmakers from Persia traveled a great distance to recognize and honor a King in whose coronation they had no part, a King far greater than any they had ever, or would ever, set on a throne.
The next evidence of Christ's kingship is shown in a negative, or reverse, way, through the antagonism and hatred of Herod. Herod's devious scheme to discover and destroy this unknown baby shows his fear that the magi's declaration about the Child could be correct, and gives unintended testimony to Jesus' true royalty. Herod knew that he himself was a usurper to the throne on which he sat only by virtue of Rome-who herself ruled Judah only by the "right" of military force. Herod was an Edomite, not a Jew, and had no legitimate claim to be the Jew's king. He therefore feared and hated even the suggestion of a rival claimant. But even the hatred of the false king gave indirect testimony to the identity of the true King.
The third evidence of Christ's kingship given in chapter 2 is presented through four fulfilled messianic prophecies. Some three hundred thirty Old Testament predictions concern, Jesus Christ...
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
How can I effectively share my Christian faith with family and friends during the holidays? (Greg Koukl) from ChristianityDotCom on Vimeo.
Paul tells us "We are ambassadors for Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:20). An effective ambassador has three essential skills. First, an ambassador must have some basic knowledge of the character, mind, and purposes of his king. Second, this knowledge must be deployed in a skillful way. There's an element of wisdom, a tactical and artful diplomacy that makes his message persuasive. Paul says, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person" (Colossians 4:6). Finally, there is character. The kindness, even-handedness, and respect the ambassador shows for those who differ can either make or break his message.
The tactical element is critical to the effectiveness of this approach. Two different tactics have been effective even with postmoderns because of a couple of simple truths. First, fairness, gentleness, and respect are always in style, and they add persuasiveness to speech regardless of the message. Second, if Christianity is true, then every person who denies it must live in a contradiction. On one side is the pull of their postmodern convictions; on the other, the tenacious pull of reality.
The "Columbo" Tactic
Lieutenant Columbo was the bumbling and seemingly inept TV detective whose remarkable success was based on an innocent query: "Do you mind if I ask you a question?" The key to this tactic is to maneuver through an encounter--halting, head-scratching, and apparently harmless--with carefully selected questions. Columbo is most powerful if you have a plan of attack, if you ask questions with a goal in mind. You may be alerted to some weakness, flaw, or contradiction in another's view you can expose in a disarming way.
There are literally hundreds of ways to do this offering tremendous advantages. It's interactive, inviting the other person to participate in dialogue. It's a good tactic to use at work because no "preaching" is involved. The Columbo tactic allows you to make good headway without actually stating your case. More importantly, a carefully placed question shifts the burden of proof to the other person where it often belongs.
Using the Columbo tactic accomplishes a couple of things. First, it immediately engages the non-believer in an interactive, relational way. The questions are probing, but still quite amicable. Second, it's flattering because you've expressed a genuine interest in knowing more about the other's view. Third, it forces her to think more carefully--maybe for the first time--about exactly what she believes. Fourth, it gives you valuable information, putting you in a better position to assess her view. You learn what she thinks, but also how she thinks.
The Suicide Tactic
The suicide tactic makes capital of the tendency of many views to self-destruct when given the opportunity. Such ideas get caught in the noose of their own cleverness and quickly expire. These are commonly known as self-refuting views.
At first it would seem this rational approach to truth would put off a postmodern who rejects such methodology as illicit holdovers from the modern era. In practice, though, this seldom happens. Postmoderns still care about truth, in spite of their protests. They are human beings made in the image of God. As such, they live in a world in which their claims collide with reality. This tactic is meant to exploit that tension.
The simple truth is, no one is really a relativist, a fact that surfaces readily when one's guard is down. They wax eloquent about relativism, but in the next breath complain about crooked politicians, legal injustice, and intolerant Christians--all meaningless if relativism is true. When they do this they're not advancing personal opinions. They actually believe these things are wrong. Their own objective view morality is surfacing.
Is Truth True?
In a debate on postmodernism I participated in at Chapman University, I defended what seemed to be a very modest claim: Objective truth can be known. My opponent, Dr. Marv Meyer, was forced to argue against the proposition, effectively stating he knew truth couldn't be known.
The debate reminded me of a construction worker who complained one day about the air quality in Los Angeles. "This smog is killing me," he said. "I need a break. I'm going out back to have a smoke." His comment entailed a contradiction. He said one thing was objectionable, and then blithely proceeded to do the very thing he objected to, sensing no conflict between the two.
Dr. Meyer's claim was much the same. First, he claimed that knowledge was a certain way. Second, he claimed he knew it to be so. All the while he argued all such claims are false. In my final remarks, I encouraged the audience to cast their votes for Dr. Meyer, then reminded them what such a vote would mean, that my opponent convinced them his view was true and mine was false. A vote for Marv, then, would be a vote for the resolve: Objective truth can be known. Professor Meyer got one vote. My success was not due to cleverness on my part, but to the fact that even postmoderns must live in God's world. The suicide tactic was effective.
When someone is graciously disarmed in the context of a respectful discussion, there is more openness to consider the Christian story. When people become aware they actually do believe in morality, this has explanatory power for something else they know intuitively: the personal guilt that each is painfully aware of.
At this point I make a suggestion. "Maybe we feel guilty because we are guilty. Is that a possibility? If it is, then denial (relativism) is not going to solve the problem. Only forgiveness can do that. This is where Jesus comes in."
This brings us right to the foot of the cross in a way that is relational, interactive, and without the feel of dogmatism. It's a way of appealing to a postmodern mindset without adopting a postmodern epistemology.
Further, this is a truth I don't need to convince them of. They already know it. Note the frank admission in the final words of Douglas Coupland's ode of the postmodern man, Life After God:
Nowhere is my secret: I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God--that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love.Coupland, the quintessential postmodern, knows that his sickness is a moral sickness--an inability to be virtuous--that only God Himself can heal. Christians who are careful ambassadors have a way of making sense of that gnawing angst. Relativism is not liberty; it's bondage. Yes, there is a problem, but there's also a solution. There is meaning. We're not alone. Someone does care. There is reason to hope.
James Sire, The Universe Next Door, 3rd ed., (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 178-9.
- Douglas Coupland, Life After God (New York: Pocket Books, 1994), 359.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Tonight we're going to look at Romans chapter 3 again and I'm always blessed to have the privilege of doing this. I'm grateful for the new life that we know about in our church, the people who are being baptized every Sunday, the people who are coming into our church constantly. And I realize how foundational and important this particular section of Romans is so that everybody understands the reality of the doctrine of salvation in its fullness and in its richness.
The text I want you to look at is Romans chapter 3 and verse 25...Romans chapter 3 and verse 25, and we'll read down to verse 31.
This is speaking of Christ Jesus and His redemption as indicated in verse 24, "Christ Jesus whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed for the demonstration, I say, for His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Or works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be. On the contrary, we establish the Law."...
Monday, December 20, 2010
Well we, of course, have the responsibility tonight to set our hearts toward the cross and the things of Christ and we also are very mindful of he fact that we are on the brink of a new year and this is a good time to kind of do a bit of a spiritual inventory. And as I thought about that, I was drawn to a text of Scripture that I would call to your attention for a few moments...1 Peter, 1 Peter. You might want to turn to it and we'll look at a couple of scriptures here in the first chapter of 1 Peter that will help us focus not only on the cross but on setting our priorities.
In the thirteenth verse of 1 Peter chapter 1, Peter writes, "Therefore prepare your minds for action." Now the Authorized says, "Gird up your loins, pull all the loose ends of your life together." This is kind of military language. When a soldier went into battle, he made sure that he pulled his tunic up, tied it around him tightly so that he could move freely and not be encumbered or hindered, or give any opportunity for the enemy. And as a soldier pulls all the loose ends together to go into serious combat, so we are called upon to prepare our minds for action, to call all of our thoughts into control. And then he says, "Keep sober," and what that essentially means there in verse 13 is to get your priorities right. Think seriously, think accurately, think nobly, be sober minded. He adds, "Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ...
Saturday, December 18, 2010
• Genesis 3:15
2) The virgin birth: Confronted (Matthew 1:19–20)
3) The virgin birth: Clarified (Matthew 1:21)
• Luke 3:23
4) The virgin birth: Connected (Matthew 1:22-23)
• Isaiah 7:14-16
5) The virgin birth: Consummated (Matthew 1:24–25)
• Mark 6:3a
Friday, December 17, 2010
It's God's will that you suffer...for righteousness' sake. Though every Christian would affirm that statement, people interpret it in a number of different ways. For some, it's doing ministry in an inner-city homeless shelter. For others, it's absorbing whatever comments your critics make about your ministry methodology—e.g., the mega-church or multi-site pastor who gets called out for franchising his brand. Still others completely ignore the issue of righteousness and godliness. For them, suffering is doing something radical, something crazy, unpopular, even shocking. Is that what God wants? Crazy suffering? Or should we interpret suffering from a more biblical paradigm? Here's John MacArthur to answer that question...
Thursday, December 16, 2010
And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. (Colossians 1:15)
The heretics viewed Jesus as one among a series of lesser spirits descending in sequential inferiority from God. Paul refutes that with two powerful descriptions of who Jesus really is. First, Paul describes Him as the image of the invisible God. Eikon (image) means "image" or "likeness." From it we get our English word icon, referring to a statue. It is used in Matthew 22:20 of Caesar's portrait on a coin, and in Revelation 13:14 of the statue of Antichrist.
Paul further describes Jesus as the first-born of all creation. From the Arians of the early church to the Jehovah's Witnesses of our own day, those who would deny our Lord's deity have sought support from this phrase. They argue that it speaks of Christ as a created being, and hence He could not be the eternal God. Such an interpretation completely misunderstands the sense of prototokos (first-born) and ignores the context.
Although prototokos can mean first-born chronologically (Luke 2:7), it refers primarily to position, or rank. In both Greek and Jewish culture, the first-born was the son who had the right of inheritance. He was not necessarily the first one born. Although Esau was born first chronologically, it was Jacob who was the "first-born" and received the inheritance. Jesus is the One with the right to the inheritance of all creation (cf. Heb. 1:2; Rev. 5:1--7, 13)...
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Submitting to authority is one of the single most effective ways you can make the gospel attractive. And even though submission is clearly the will of God, too many Christians seem to think it's optional. That's a reproach to the gospel, the church, and the Lord Himself. It's God's will that we lead peaceful, quiet lives, submit to the laws of the land, and be a blessing to church leadership. We are to submit. That is God's will. Here's John MacArthur to explain...
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
One motive for believers' working out their sanctification is understanding the consequences of sin. Although God is loving, merciful, and forgiving, He nevertheless holds believers accountable for disobedience. Like John, Paul understood well that "if we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8--9). Knowing that he serves a holy and just God, the faithful believer will always live with fear and trembling. Fear translates phobos, which describes fright or terror (cf. Matt. 14:26;Luke 21:26; 1 Cor. 2:3) as well as reverential awe (cf. Acts 2:43; 9:31; 2 Cor. 5:11; 7:1). Trembling is from tromos, which refers to shaking and is the word from which the English word tremor derives. Both of those are proper reactions to the awareness of one's own spiritual weakness and the power of temptation. The Lord seeks such an attitude in His children, as His words in Isaiah 66:2 indicate:"To this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word."
An important Old Testament truth is "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 111:10; cf. Prov. 1:7; 9:10). This is not a fear of being doomed to eternal torment, nor a hopeless dread of judgment that leads to despair. It is rather a reverential fear, a holy concern to give God the honor He deserves and avoid the chastening of His displeasure. Such fear protects against...
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
• 1 Peter 1:10-11
• Luke 17:20-21
2) The Reply (Matthew 11:4-6)
• Isaiah 35:4-5
• Isaiah 61:1
3) The Recognition (Matthew 11:7-11)
• Malachi 3:1
Thursday, December 09, 2010
This clip, entitled "Combat Fear by Knowing the Father," is taken from the sermon "Jesus and Anxiety," preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle as part of the ongoing series, "Luke: Investigating The Man Who Is God" For more information about this current series, visit http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/luke
and for more audio and video content visit marshillchurch.org.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
This clip entitled "Fear Not" is taken from the sermon "Jesus And Anxiety" preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church as part of the ongoing series, "Luke: Investigating The Man Who Is God" For more information about this current series, visit http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/luke
and for more audio and video content visit marshillchurch.org
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
This clip entitled "7 Truths About Fear" is taken from the sermon "Jesus And Anxiety" preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church as part of the ongoing series, "Luke: Investigating The Man Who Is God" For more information about this current series, visit http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/luke
and for more audio and video content visit marshillchurch.org
Monday, December 06, 2010
But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self--control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn. (1 Corinthians 7:8--9)
These verses answer the question, "Should those who were married and divorced before becoming Christians remarry?" No doubt that was a key question in the Corinthian church. Formerly married people came to salvation in Christ and asked if they now had the right to marry someone else. Paul's response here is uniquely fitted to those who want to know their options.
Paul is speaking to people who were divorced before coming to Christ. They wanted to know if they had the right to marry. His word to them is that it is good for them who are now free of marriage to remain even as I. By that statement Paul affirms that he was formerly married. Because marriage seems to have been required for membership in the Sanhedrin, to which Paul may once have belonged, because he had been so devoutly committed to Pharisaic tradition (Gal. 1:14), and because he refers to one who could have been his wife's mother (Rom. 16:13), we may assume that he was once married. His statement here to the previously married confirms that—even as I. Likely he was a widower. He does not identify with the virgins but with the unmarried and widows, that is, with the formerly married.
The point is that those who are single when converted to Christ should know that it is good for them to stay that way. There is no need to rush into marriage. Many well--meaning Christians are not content to let people remain single. The urge to play cupid and matchmaker can be strong, but mature believers must resist it. Marriage is not necessary or superior to singleness, and it limits some potential for service to Christ (vv. 32--34).
Later in the chapter Paul advised believers to remain as they were. Staying single was not wrong, and becoming married or staying married were not wrong. But "in view of the present distress" the Corinthian believers were experiencing, it seemed much better to stay as they were (7:25--28).
Deciding about marriage obviously is more difficult for the person who has strong sexual desires but who has no immediate prospect for a husband or wife. It is never God's will for Christians to marry unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14), but neither is it right just to marry the first believer who will say yes. Though we may want very much to be married, we should be careful. Strong feelings of any sort tend to dull judgment and make one vulnerable and careless.
There are several things that Christians in this dilemma ought to do. First, they should not simply seek to be married, but should seek a person they can love, trust, and respect, letting marriage come as a response to that commitment of love. People who simply want to get married for the sake of getting married run a great risk of marrying the wrong person. Second, it is fine to be on the lookout for the "right person," but the best way to find the right person is to be the right person. If believers are right with God and it is His will for them to be married He will send the right person—and never too late.
If, however, a single believer did not have self--control, that person should seek to marry. If a Christian is single but does not have the gift of singleness and is being strongly tempted sexually, he or she should pursue marriage. Let them marry in the Greek is in the aorist imperative, indicating a strong command. "Get married," Paul says, for it is better to marry than to burn. The term means "to be inflamed," and is best understood as referring to strong passion (cf. Rom. 1:27). A person cannot live a happy life, much less serve the Lord, if he is continually burning with sexual desire—even if the desire never results in actual immorality. And in a society such as Corinth's, or ours, in which immorality is so prevalent and accepted, it is especially difficult not to succumb to temptation.
I believe that once a Christian couple decides to get married they should do it fairly soon. In a day of lowered standards, free expression, and constant suggestiveness, it is extremely difficult to stay sexually pure. The practical problems of an early marriage are not nearly as serious as the danger of immorality.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
This clip entitled "Jesus Identifies With Us" is taken from the sermon "Jesus And Anxiety" preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church as part of the ongoing series, "Luke: Investigating The Man Who Is God" For more information about this current series, visit http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/luke
and for more audio and video content visit marshillchurch.org
Thursday, December 02, 2010
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. . . you'll no doubt be wrestling with a Christmas to-do list packed with shopping, decorating, school plays, and traveling to name a few. Through it all, how will you stay focused on what's most important?
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
If you ever blew a test because you didn't review your notes, you know how forgetting important details can ruin your whole day. Ironically, forgetting what's important doesn't seem to ruin Christmas day for countless people...
On Sunday nights here at Grace Church for many months, we have been dealing with very important matters of theology, great doctrines that are critical for our understanding of the Christian faith, and therefore our service to the Lord. And tonight I want to embrace one that is certainly foundational, I want to call it, "The Theology of Creation...The Theology of Creation." Creation is a theological issue, not a scientific issue. Theology is the only source from which we have any information about creation. Any study of creation must come in the framework of theology because it is a word from God.
Theology, by the way, used to be called the queen of the sciences. It was called the queen of the sciences because in the final analysis the ultimate reigning truth is theology. Biblical theology, the revelation of God in Scripture, trumps all other sources of information and knowledge. And so, for centuries creation was a theological issue, not a scientific one. And then came Darwin and Darwin confiscated the subject of creation out of the realm of theology and tried to put into the realm of human knowledge and did no service to mankind.
If we want to understand creation, if we want to understand origins, if we want to understand how the universe came into existence and everything that is in it, we have to look at theology, not science. And the source of theology is the Word of God in which God speaks. The Bible is not theory, the Bible is fact. The Bible is reality. The Bible is truth no matter what subject it addresses, but particularly with regard to origins since no one was here when God created, we have only His eyewitness account.