September 14, 2016
This morning on my yearly trek through the Bible I read Matthew 25. While reading the Sheep and the Goats passage of Matthew 25 I couldn’t help but think of its connection with the sermon passage last Sunday (Hebrews 6:9-12), where the text in describing things that accompany salvation (9) mentions, “the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints” (10). The truth of the passage is clear: saved people love God’s name and this love is expressed in serving the saints.
The Sheep and the Goats passage is scary. Those who enter eternal life (25:46) are those who serve Jesus. Jesus says in Mt. 25:35-36 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” The “righteous” are stunned by this statement. They ask (37), “When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink?” Then Jesus said (40), “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” So, in this passage the sign of eternal life is meeting the needs of Jesus’ brothers, particularly the “least” of Jesus brothers.
This begs the question, who are Jesus’ brothers? Jesus in Mt. 12:50 says, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Putting all of this together, we might ask, what is one of the indications of salvation? Answer: we will serve the saints, Jesus’ family. We are saved by grace through faith, however, a key sign of life is that we will serve our brothers and sisters in Christ.
You see, if we love Jesus we will love what he loves. He loves the church. Therefore we will too. We will love no matter how needy, how broken, how irritating, and how reckless our brothers and sisters might be. We will love our brothers and sisters.
July 13, 2016
Here are few links that might be worth your time.
Five Questions to Ask Before You Consume Cannabis – I think that the church needs to start grappling with this issue (whether it wants to or not).
17 Benefits to Reading the Entire Bible – At this point in my life, I don’t think I could not do this on a yearly basis. I would never be legalistic about it, however, there is great value in reading the Bible through. At the same time, I would say that meditating on key texts (e.g. the gospels) might be more beneficial.
HOW SHOULD I PROCESS THE CURRENT TENSIONS AND VIOLENCE IN OUR COUNTRY? Kevin DeYoung grounds us in the truth of Scripture as we face national tragedy on fairly regular basis.
On religious liberty: Has all goodwill run out? Freedom is on the wane in our country. This is certainly the bad news. The good news is that Christians are becoming more distinctive everyday.
July 7, 2016
Here are 4 Reasons Why Every Christian Ought to Know the Traditional Creeds. Sadly, often evangelicals have an aversion toward these helpful creeds.
Is shame The Silent Marriage-Killer? I think that given our history of sin, shame often lurks.
What are The 4 Most Popular Ways to Read the Song of Songs? Iain Duguid helps sort the issues of this vexing book.
The movie Me Before You raises the question of assisted suicide. In a culture where death is increasingly prevalent and accepted (think abortion), this is no surprise. In Assisted Suicide: A Quadriplegic’s Perspective, Joni Eareckson Tada argues against the practice.
Christian dating sites must arrange same-sex matches reminds us that America is no longer the Land of the Free. With rulings like this and the popularity of socialist candidates, it is certain that freedom in America will continue to wane. Perhaps it is time for a new national anthem?
July 2, 2016
What are believers to do with the ordinances, sometimes referred to as the sacraments ? In the evangelical world, they are almost expendable. Some believers are never baptized and haven’t participated in the Supper in years. I think the reason for this is that as evangelicals we tend to stress our subjective faith over the objective work of God. However, in the ordinances, the emphasis is more on God’s work than it is on our faith. Carl Truman, in his inimitable way, articulates this truth while unpacking Luther’s view of the Sacraments. We marginalize the ordinances at our peril.
June 11, 2016
No doubt most believers can formulate a working, accurate definition of worship. Worship is not just about our song service on Sunday morning, it is about a life consumed with the glory of God. Certainly our music is a component of worship, but it alone is far from the full-orbed concept of worship that we find in God’s word where song, prostration, and silence are but a few elements of worship. I’m reading Alister McGrath’s book The Journey, and I came across this definition of worship. I think it captures the heart of worship, and I trust that it will be an encouragement.
Worship is the human response to catching a glimpses of God in all his radiance and glory. It is a moment in which words fail us and we fall to our knees in joy, wonder, and amazement. We realize that human language is simply not capable of doing justice to the majesty and glory of the Lord. Worship refreshes us precisely because it forces us to raise our eyes upward and appreciate the immensity and grandeur of our maker and redeemer.
I hope our souls will be refreshed as we worship our glorious God.
May 16, 2016
Why bother with church? subtitled, And other questions about why you need it and why it needs you by Sam Allberry is an excellent introduction to what the church is, why believers should attend, what should be expected in church, how does one survive the rigors and perils of church life, and how to be a good church member.
I’m always amazed when I bump into Christians who live in consistent disobedience to Jesus. I understand stumbling and falling into sin. I struggle with sin as much as anyone else. Consistent disobedience is a different issue. Why would a Christian, for example, refuse to be baptized when Jesus commands it? The logical conclusion is that Jesus isn’t really Lord in this person’s life. Similarly, church involvement for the disciple of Jesus isn’t an elective. (I realize that there are circumstances like poor health that can keep people from attending church.) Christians are commanded to gather. The early church was devoted to gathering. There is no way to be a productive part of the body of Christ without gathering. How can one love Christ and yet not love the church He loves? How can Christians love Christ but not His work, the church He is building? Allberry builds a brief but cogent case for church attendance.
One of the great benefits of this book is that it helps the believer who has struggled with bad church experiences wade back into church. In other words, Allberry doesn’t just beat one over the head with Biblical exhortation, he graciously recognizes that church can be painful for a number of reasons, and he then gives practical steps that enable Christians to live faithfully with their Lord by again being a part of the body of Christ.
The book is much more than a prod to attend church. In a brief but effective way it covers most questions that people might have about the church. It is truly an introduction to the church. I highly recommend this stellar volume.
April 26, 2016
Every now and then I get asked about what I think of cremation. You might have heard what I have to say. I think burial is best, however, I don’t think cremation is a sin. I prefer the symbolism of burial to the symbolism of cremation. Christians bury, pagans cremate. A burial is implicitly Christian. When bodies were burned in the Bible it was because they were cursed (think Achan). My view might surprise some given that I’m a tightwad. You can bury someone at Whiskeytown Cemetery for $500, and you don’t have to have the person embalmed. I’ve known people who had their caskets made by a loved one for the cost of the supplies. The bottomline is that the cost for a “Christian” burial isn’t that different from cremation. Cremation is usually cheaper than burial, I just don’t like what it says.
My sister, Pam, alerted me to this post by John Piper eloquently echoing what I’ve been saying.