It’s Suppertime

March 31, 2018

Tomorrow at Bowman we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This is from Chapter 30 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession:

The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and showing to all the world the sacrifice of himself in his death,1 confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other.2
1 1 Cor. 11:23-26
2 1 Cor. 10:16,17,21

Among other things the supper is “for … confirmation of the benefits of faith … spiritual nourishment … growth in him … further engagement in, and to all duties which we owe him; and to a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and to each other.” As is always the case with the gospel, the Supper is too good to be true. Through eating the simple bread and wine we are confirmed in the faith, nourished, we grow, it enables us to serve and obey, and it is a bond and pledge of our communion with Jesus. This is one meal I don’t ever want to miss.

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Resurrection Reality

March 28, 2018

Bomanites, what follows with slight modification will arrive in your mailbox in the next few days. If you want to get a jump on my newsletter piece, here it is …

Spring brings with it not only the delights of warmer days and a profusion of colorful growth, but also the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, for believers the resurrection of Jesus means everything. Believers have doubled down on the resurrection. As the Apostle Paul wrote, if there is no resurrection, then we are of all people most pitied. Either the Christian hope is a hoax of disastrous proportions and every other belief system has merit, or Christianity is true and every other belief system is a hoax of disastrous proportions. It’s like the earth is either flat or round. Only one can be true.

This is why Christians put so much emphasis on the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection. We might sing a song like “He Lives” that says, “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.” It is true that, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” As precious as this experience is, ultimately our hope doesn’t rest on our subjective experience, rather it is firmly fixed in objective history. We sink or swim based on the historical truth of the resurrection. The establishment of ancient historical truth is not like the evidence in a court case today. Obviously there is no video, audio or DNA evidence. Yet, we acknowledge that we have an understanding of what happened in antiquity. We know what happened in the past because of literature, art, artifacts and architecture, among other things. For example, thankfully, none of us were around for the Black Death in the middle of the 14th century in Europe. Some estimates indicate that 60% of the population of Europe was killed. In major metropolitan areas maybe 75% of the population died. It took 200 years for the world’s population to recover. How do we know this given that there are no videos, audio recordings or other modern techniques of verification? There is irrefutable evidence from things like literature, art and cemeteries. No one doubts what was then called the Great Mortality. The Black Death changed the world.

Christ’s resurrection is the same type of truth. It isn’t substantiated through video, audio or DNA. The historical record from that era tells us the story. We know the resurrection happened because of the literature and corroborating history from that time period. The Apostle Paul writes of those who witnessed the resurrected Christ: “He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” Written decades after the Jesus’ ascension, Paul says the witnesses are still alive. There are hundreds of them. Go have a chat. The disciples who were powerless, pusillanimous polliwogs before the resurrection were transformed into giant-slayers after the resurrection. The church exploded in the years following the resurrection. It took off in the least likely place of all, Jerusalem. Unless, of course, Jesus really did rise from the dead in Jerusalem. Then it would be the most likely place. A few decades after the resurrection Christians were accused of “turning the world upside down.” Less that 300 years later Christianity had conquered the Roman Empire. Not with swords like other religions but simply with the truth of the resurrection. The resurrection changed the world.

What does the resurrection mean to us? Let me highlight two truths. First, Paul writing about Jesus said, “Who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” We understand that Jesus died for our sins. Paul also adds that he was raised for our justification. Christ’s resurrection verified that our sin was forgiven. Think of it as a receipt. Recently Debbie and I visited Muir Woods. To get there and back to our car, we took a shuttle bus. We paid for our bus ride at the park bookstore. We were given a receipt that we had to show the bus driver to secure our place on the bus. Similarly, the resurrection means the price has been paid and is our receipt that secures our place in heaven.

Second, Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of the final resurrection. Again, Paul says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The harvest, the resurrection has started. We’re next. Christ’s resurrection guarantees that it will happen to you and me.xThe resurrection bus has already picked up and delivered Jesus. It is on the way back to pick up those with receipts. The resurrection is destiny-changing truth. Rest in it!

“If we do not allow for the rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath–our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack, our accidents create Sabbath for us.” — Wayne Muller

Destinations

October 6, 2017

B003D0TAM8.01._SX490_SCLZZZZZZZ_V190274968_I haven’t posted anything in quite some time. This week there have been two reads that I think are worth passing on.

I’ve recently realized that the historic view of the church regarding homosexuality is fast becoming the minority view of the church (and obviously, our culture too). I think of all that has happened regarding homosexuality, this is the most startling development given that the Word is so clear about this issue. 1Corinthians 6:9-10 says: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” The historic view of the church is that homosexuality is wrong. Again, this view is receding in the “evangelical” church of today. In this older article, Christopher Yaun deals with the “biblical” arguments of gay “Christian,” Matthew Vines. This is a helpful article in that it addresses the hermeneutical gymnastics typically employed by those who want to support the idea that homosexuality is allowed by the Word of God.

This time of year Debbie and I discuss what tract should go home with the children who visit our Church’s Fall Frenzy on Halloween evening. This year the children will go home with the Gospel of John. We were discussing which copy of John to purchase (there are many options). I mentioned to Debbie that while I appreciated the gospel presentation in one of the booklets, what I didn’t like was the “Sinner’s Prayer” included with the gospel message. I’ve had a tab open on my computer for several weeks. I read the article this morning and it deals with the issue of the sinner’s prayer. It is definitely worth reading because it addresses the issue of how we call people to Christ.

Finally, don’t miss this month’s free Christian Audio book, The Whole Christ. It is definitely worth listening to.

 

Flag or no Flag

August 7, 2017

I greatly appreciate our country and those who have served in the military to secure our freedoms. I appreciate God’s generous providence in putting my family and me here.

That said, I wonder whether or not the American flag should be displayed where the visible expression of God’s Kingdom meets on the Lord’s day. I have no problems with a flag being displayed on the church grounds, however does it belong with the other symbols of our Christianity (e.g. crosses, Bibles, Lord’s Table). What do you think?

I mentioned in the past that I’m reading Block’s book on worship. This is his two cents:

Since worship involves reverential acts of homage before God, every detail of the sanctuary should evoke awe before him, rather than before the human architect of the decorations … Effects that distract from the worship of God should not be allowed to encroach on sacred space. If we must have a flag, then have flags of many nations, illustrating the transnational nature of the body of Christ; to display only an American flag borders on civil religion and is distracting and offensive especially to non-American visitors.

A while back I mentioned that I was going to work through “For the Glory of God.” It is a book on the Biblical Theology of worship. I must confess that I haven’t made much progress in the book. I’ve been reading–just not this book. In the author’s chapter on the object of worship I did come across some interesting thoughts on the Holy Spirit and worship. I think that these truths should cause us to at least think about how we pray to, and worship the Spirit.

“Remarkably, the doxologies (in the Bible) never ascribe praise, honor, glory, dominion, or power to the Holy Spirit.”

In the Bible … “No one addresses the Holy Spirit in prayer, or bows down to the Holy Spirit, or serves him in a liturgical gesture. Put simply, in the Bible the Spirit is never the object of worship.”

“However, it seems that the Holy Spirit is most honored when we accept his conviction of sin, his transforming and sanctifying work within us, and his guidance in life and ministry, and when in response to his leading we prostrate ourselves before Jesus.”

I’m still reading Calvin’s Institutes (I will be for quite a while). I’m in the section dealing with the Apostles’ Creed. More specifically, I’m reading his comments on the church. For one’s FUTURE consideration (this is for the NEXT time someone might be considering a church family change), I’m going to mention three Calvin quotes about leaving a church. Obviously, there are reasons for leaving a church (distance being a main consideration), but frequently people leave for any and every reason. Here’s some of Calvin’s wisdom:

“How dangerous is the temptation—or rather, how ruinous (wow, a very strong word)—when in his heart a man decides to separate from a congregation which displays those signs (Calvin here is referring to the preaching of the Word and the sacraments) which our Lord thought sufficient to identify his church.”

And then for those who in the future might have doctrinal disagreements with a church:

“But I do say that we should not, through some difference of opinion, lightly forsake a church which fully safeguards the essential truths of our salvation and the sacraments, in a accordance with our Lord’s instructions”

Finally, for those who might consider leaving because of the scoundrels who attend a particular church:

“Since the Lord affirms that the church will suffer the misery of being burdened by the wicked until the judgment day, it is pointless for them to look for a church which is completely cleansed and pure.”

Good stuff to think about.