Monday, February 12, 2007

Actually, It's a Continuation of This Blog

Come see it here.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Joy. Worship. Adoration.

The response of the shepherds when angels announced to them the birth of the Savior was to go "with haste" to Bethlehem to see the Son of God born as a babe in a manger. Then they spread the word and "all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds."

The magi came from afar, the shepherds came from nearby; they all came in earnest. And they beheld the One Who is the "image of the invisible God." The eternal Lord of creation was born as a babe in swaddling clothes.

It's a birthday that will never be forgotten. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Why Those Men Were Wise

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him."

-Matthew 2: 1-2

The wise men ("magi" in the NASB) did not equivocate in their word choice when they arrived in Jerusalem in the early part of the first century. Perhaps after a wearisome journey that may have lasted months or years they were in no mood to dissemble, but, unlike many today who strenuously avoid the mention the miraculous birth of the Son of God, and who seem to strive even more to avoid its mention at the very time of year we celebrate it, the wise men got straight to the point. In their short two-sentence inquiry they testified that the One Whose birth they came to recognize was the King, that He was Divine (hence, their intention to worship Him), that His birth was revealed in the heavens, and this revelation had been observed even in their distant country (they had seen His star in the east).

In addition, they acted on the knowledge they had received, making the arduous journey, bringing gifts to indicate reverence and worship, and speaking the truth they knew while searching earnestly for what they didn't know. They were apparently not familiar enough with the Scriptures to know they should look in Bethlehem, so they asked.

Their love for the truth is an example to the rest of humanity throughout the ages.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Debate Continues...

The Lordship salvation discussion continues here. There are multiple failures in the non-Lordship argument; indeed, it is difficult to read the New Testament with any consistency and come away with a conclusion other than submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as a condition of salvation. In Philippians 1: 6, Paul says, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (NASB)." The faith that believes Christ died for our sins, rose to give us resurrection life, and imputed His righteousness to our account, also believes that God continues to work in us to accomplish His purpose. The sheep which trusts the Shepherd to rescue it also follows the Shepherd.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's Not Your Kingdom

Some call it Lordship Salvation, and that, I think, is an apt description. But I call it "salvation salvation". The faith that saves receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. To think that one could receive the free gift of righteousness and be forgiven of his sins, yet not submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ, is to hold to a notion that is not found in Scripture. God forgives; yes, but He does so only on His terms, and He does not entertain counter-offers. There is no option to say, "I'll take the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life, thank you very much," yet decline the command of the Lord when He says, "Follow Me." You want admission to the kingdom? Good, admission is free. But you have to submit to the King.

The apostle Peter, in his first epistle, exhorts believers to holy conduct (1 Peter 1: 14-16), then explains that " were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1: 18-19 NASB). How can we be redeemed from our previous futile way of living and yet continue in that same lifestyle? We are called to a new life, a holy life (v.15). We are declared righteous as a free gift (Romans 3: 24) and are born again to a new life (Romans 6:4). We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2: 8,9) and we become a new creation of God, created for the good works He prepared for us to walk in (Ephesians 2: 10).

This does not mean that Christians don't sin and it absolutely does not mean that we must (or even can) do anything to earn salvation. It doesn't mean that one must set things in order before calling on the Lord for salvation, or that a believer cannot stumble badly even though he has received salvation.

It does mean that the believer has been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1: 13) and we now serve a new Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Signs in the Sky

In a previous post, I pointed out that Matthew 24: 15-31 refers to a time yet future, for one reason because the language in verses 21 and 22 describe a time of distress "such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be", in which no life would be saved if the days were not cut short. Since this requirement was not met in A.D. 70, the prophecy in these verses is still awaiting fulfillment.

Another reason to interpret the passage in a futuristic sense, as I pointed out in this post, is the event known as "The Abomination of Desolation" did not occur in A.D. 70 and also awaits being fulfilled.

A third reason to understand this passage as indicating events still anticipated is the language in verses 29-31, which describes a scenario which did not take place in A.D. 70, nor at any time as yet. Therefore the reader of this passage, upon arriving at verses 29-31, is faced with two choices. One is to conclude that since we have not yet seen the sun darkened, the moon not giving its light, the stars falling from the sky, the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the sky, and the elect gathered from one end of the sky to the other after the sound of a great trumpet, we must still be waiting for the events of these verses to be realized. "Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn." That is still future. "...and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Future.

A second choice the reader has is to interpret the verses in a nonliteral way. I previously offered some comments here about why I do not agree with this way of viewing the passage. I want to talk a little more about that in this post.

The events described in Matthew 24: 29-31 do not present any difficulty when considered in the context of the Second Coming and the events immediately preceeding it. We know the Second Coming is a literal future event, these verses obviously describe that event. The context of Matthew 24 does not suggest that suddenly the reader should shift gears in verse 29 and begin applying an allegorical hermeneutical method here after reading the passage in a literal sense up to this point. Those verses in the Olivet Discourse (such as Luke 21: 21-24 in a parallel passage) which do refer to 70 A.D. were literally fulfilled, as was Matthew 24:2. So one question that must be asked before accepting a nonliteral view of Matthew 24: 29-31 is: What is it about the context of this passage that would compel an allegorical view of those scriptures? It seems the only reason to resort to allegory at this point in the passage is to force the verses to conform to a first-century fulfillment, but hermeneutics should be about letting the Scripture shape the doctrine rather than imposing a predetermined viewpoint on the verses.

Another way of interpreting Matthew 24: 29-31, Isaiah 13: 6-13, Zephaniah 1: 14-18, various passages in Revelation, etc. (and this method of interpretation frustrates me even more than taking these passages allegorically!) is to assign them to a category of hyperbole that is supposedly "typical" of "catastrophic" prophetic language. I see no validity in this hermeneutical method whatsoever, and I certainly don't believe it is the intent of these passages. I want to empasize here that I don't consider this the same method as the allegorical or metaphorical, even though I also disagree w/ those modes of looking at these verses. The difference is that at least the allegorical method concedes there must be a point to the language and a satisfactory allegory indicated by the words. The method I call the "hyperbole" method seeks no point other than to try to avoid the task of expositing the verses.

In addition to the context itself, the historical example of those Biblical prophecies which have been literally fulfilled, and the lack of a compelling allegorical interprepretation, another reason that I believe these verses in Matthew 24: 29-31 should be taken literally is the disciples have come to Jesus in private to answer their eschatological questions. They sought clarification and details, so it seems that if verse 29 was a parable, this would be stated, especially since, at the time, the Olivet Discourse was a private teaching.

Finally, we know the Second Coming, described in Matthew 24: 30-31, is going to happen literally. But it did not happen in the first century and has not happened yet. As we see in this passage, when it happens, it will be cataclysmic. Literally.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Made-to-order fare might be a good idea in the fast-food industry, but the made-to-order philosophy should be ditched at sermon time in church. The congregation needs to hear what the congregation needs to hear, and this is not always what it wants to hear. Hopefully, as the listeners in the pews continue to be spiritually fed and to grow and mature in their faith, what they want to hear will increasingly resemble what they need to hear. But the preacher needs to heed Paul's words to Timothy and "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you." (1 Timothy 4:16, NASB).

The Greek work for teaching here, didaskalia, is translated "doctrine" in the KJV. In verse 13 Paul urges Timothy to "...give attendance to reading (i.e., the public reading of Scripture), to exhortation, to doctrine" (KJV). Significant portions of the pastoral epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are devoted to the importance of sound doctrine and the pastor's responsibility to teach from the Scriptures to the church assembly. Sadly, many pulpits today have the congregation on a steady diet of stories, anecdotes, and rambling platitudes rather than Scriptural exegesis. It is my opinion that a faithful, scriptural exposition of the Biblical text is generally the most important function a church can provide on Sunday morning. This is not to say that other things are not also important in church, but preaching from the word (yes, preaching!) should not take a back seat when the church bells ring.