I’ve been asked to join a team of guys in an effort to launch a new website. At that site I’ll be helping write and edit, giving general oversight to the theological and exegetical content we publish. Because of that partnership, I’ll be giving my blogging time to that site. This will make it impossible to keep this site running.

So, this is my last post here at Blogournal. Thanks for reading and look for a new website coming soon. I’ll update this post when that website goes live in the next couple of months.

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE: You can read things I write at Mind & Mission (www.mindandmission.com)

I recently wrote a post that attempted to show the concept of amnesty is critically deficient in painting a picture of the gospel. I’m thankful David Schrock and Southern Seminary picked up the post and shared it on his blog. Below is an excerpt with a link to the full text at the bottom. Enjoy.

Good paintings tell stories.

Think of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. It tells the story of Jesus and his disciples sitting down for the final meal before the crucifixion. Jesus would drink the Passover cup before being sacrificed as the Passover lamb.

The good news of Jesus is more than a story. But it’s not less. It is the most important story on the planet. And it is the truest of true stories. Many have attempted to paint pictures that rightly tell the story of the gospel. Sometimes these paintings are painted with words, instead of paint and a canvass.

These gospel paintings are often necessary because the gospel must be explained. It is a message made up of propositional truth. That means it must be understood. John Piper writes, “the gospel is not only news. It is first news, and then it is doctrine. Doctrine means teaching, explaining, clarifying. Doctrine is part of the gospel because news can’t be just declared by the mouth of a herald—it has to be understood in the mind of the hearer” (Piper, God is the Gospel, 21).

In order for hearer’s to understand the gospel, a number of different word pictures have been painted. Some compare the gospel to paying your speeding ticket, or serving your prison sentence. Like creation itself, the word-pictures available are gloriously endless.

One such picture is that of amnesty. The good news of Jesus is compared to a government, possibly a king, declaring amnesty to those who have committed a crime against the state. The question is whether or not the picture of amnesty is the best picture to paint.

Read the whole thing here or here.

Connection Points

Posted: April 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

Connection

Here’s list of some posts to connect you to important discussions and helpful resources:

1. Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?—Dr. Owen Strachan, president of the Council of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, weighs in.

2. What Should the Church Say to Bruce Jenner—Russell Moore nails it.

3. A New Book on the Trinity—with chapters by men like Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware, and Andy Naselli, this book deserves careful reading.

4. Learn to Trace the Argument in 1 Peter—one of my seminary brothers will be leading a class over at http://www.biblearc.com.

5. The Latest Sermon by Nathan Millican—take some time and listen to a good friend of mine preach a faithful sermon.

Traditionally called the Song of Moses, Exodus 15:1–18 records the praises of Moses offered to Yahweh. These praises are offered as a result of Yahweh delivering Israel from Egypt.

After Yahweh unleashes ten plagues, the Egyptian Pharaoh is moved to release God’s people. Yet, he regrets his decision and gathers his army to pursue the Israelites (14:5­–9). The Egyptians pursue the Israelites to the Red Sea and all hope seems lost. The people of Israel are facing an enemy they cannot defeat as the ocean lies behind them and the Egyptian army stands in front of them. However, Yahweh of Hosts is fighting for his people. In Exodus 14, the Lord parts the seas and leads Israel through on dry ground. When the Egyptians pursue Israel, God clogs their chariot wheels (14:25) and ultimately drowns them in the waters.

In this event God displayed his power and faithfully redeemed his people. He had conquered Israel’s enemies and brought his people safely through the waters of judgment. Now, looking upon the mighty redemptive act of God, Moses sings a new song. He sings a song that praises his redeemer and celebrates his faithfulness to his covenant people.

In verse 11 Moses asks, “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you…” (15:11a)? The implied answer is that no one is like Yahweh. He is utterly unique. The so-called other “gods” are to be compared to one who is “majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, and doing wonders” (15:11b). This holiness, awesomeness, and wonder working power are what make Yahweh unique and set-apart from the gods of the Egyptians.

Brevard Childs, in his commentary on Exodus, makes an important observation concerning this passage:

The second part of the hymn begins in vs. 13. Not only is there a marked change in content with no further specific reference in the hymn to the sea, but v. 13 offers an interpretation of the events which have preceded by its choice of vocabulary…It was through this event that Israel was redeemed to become the people of God.

Childs observes that the Exodus event is meant to bring God and his people together. What other god has ever acted in this way? In Deuteronomy 4:34 Moses reflects on this event and asks, “has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?” This is an obvious reference to the Exodus event and Moses asks the rhetorical question in 15:11 in light of God’s deliverance of Israel. That is, God’s “majestic holiness” likely points to the devotion God has towards his covenant people. This devotion moves Moses to sing of Yahweh’s utter uniqueness.

God is not like the other gods precisely because he has saved his people and brought them to himself. They will move to Sinai and meet him on the mountain (cf. Exodus 19). The context does include the idea of distinction. There are no other gods like Yahweh. He is utterly unique. Yet, if Peter Gentry is right in arguing that the meaning of holiness is basically “consecration” or “devotion,” then the phrase “majestic in holiness” seems to be a reference to God’s commitment to the descendants of  Abraham (cf. Gen. 12).

Holiness as Consecration or Devotion

Could it be that God’s holiness (i.e. consecration or devotion) is a reason that Moses includes the comparative question in his song? To state it differently, God’s “majestic holiness” is what makes God unique among the so-called pantheon of gods. In this view, holiness is not defined as set-apartness, but as something else. This “something else” results in being set-apart.

The context seems helpful at this point. Moses is praising Yahweh for his display of power in delivering Israel from Egypt. Though holiness is often defined as moral purity, notions of moral purity seem absent from the song altogether. What of the idea of transcendence which is commonly placed under the definition of holy? Again, though the Bible clearly teaches that God is far above creation, high and lifted up (Isa. 6:3), this is not the focus of Moses’ Song. Instead, God has condescended; he has broken into history, graciously and powerfully acting on behalf of Israel. For what purpose has Yahweh acted? So that he can “bring them in and plant them on [his] own mountain, the place…which [he has] made for [their] abode, the sanctuary…which [his] hands have established” (Ex. 15:17). In short, he has delivered them from Egypt and brought them to himself.

God had chosen Abraham and his descendants. The offspring of Abraham are Yahweh’s covenant people. At the beginning of the book of Exodus the reader finds Israel living under the oppression of the Egyptians. God’s people cry out to him, calling for their God to remember his promise to Abraham. Yahweh hears their cries and responds. He is devoted to his people and demonstrates his devotion by delivering them from Egypt. God is holy. That is, he is consecrated, or devoted, to his people and his glory.

This devotion is what makes Yahweh utterly unique. He is clearly separate from other so-called gods.

For now, at least in my mind, Exodus 15:11 seems to offer a bit of support for understanding holy as “consecration” or “devotion.”

The new edition of the JBMW has recently been released. You can download articles here.

Below is the table of contents for the current issue.

Table of Contents

Editorial

  • Jason G. Duesing, “Light and Fellowship in the Darkness,” pp. 1-3

Essays & Perspectives

  • R. Albert Mohler, “Biblical Theology and the Sexual Crisis,” pp. 4-7
  • Evan Lenow, “The Not-So-Unified Narrative of the LGBT Movement,” pp. 8-13
  • Garrett Kell, “What Would Jesus Say to Someone Like Leelah Alcorn,” pp. 14-18
  • Derek J. Brown, “Admonish the Idle: Thoughts on How to Motivate Lazy Men,” pp. 19-23

Studies

  • Owen Strachan, “A Referendum on Depravity: Same-Sex Attraction as Sinful Desire,” pp. 24-34
  • Craig Kline M.D. with David Schrock, “What Is Gender Reassignment Surgery? A Medical Assessment with a Biblical Appraisal,” pp. 35-47
  • Sam Allberry, “You May Now Serve the Bride: The Trinity and Gender,” pp. 48-58

From the Sacred Desk

  • Matthew Barrett, “God’s Design for Marriage: Celebrating the Beauty of Gender Roles in 1 Peter 3:1-7,” pp. 59-65

Gender Studies in Review

  • Matthew Arbo, “A Review of Ellen K. Feder. Making Sense of Intersex: Changing Ethical Perspectives in Biomedicine,” pp. 66-69
  • Josh Philpot, “A Review of Carol Meyers. Rediscovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context,” pp. 70-74
  • Alex Carr, “A Review of Ronald Cole-Turner. Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enhancement,” pp. 75-77
  • Megan Hill, “A Review of Jen Wilkin. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds,” pp. 78-80
  • Andrew Walker, “A Review of Robert R. Reilly’s Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything,” pp. 81-84
  • Godwin Sathianathan, “A Review of Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger . God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey,” pp. 85-87

Grace

Posted: April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

While preaching on Sunday morning I was struck by the concept of grace. God’s grace abounds in our lives. Do we stop and ponder his grace on a regular basis? We should.

What stuck in my mind the rest of Sunday afternoon was the overwhelming number of ways that God has been gracious. I thought I’d take a few minutes and expand on God’s grace towards sinners like me:

1. If you are reading this, you have life and breath.

2. If you are an unbeliever and you’re reading this, you still have time to turn from sin and trust in Christ (John 3:16).

3. If you are a believer, you have been justified by your faith (Rom. 5:1).

4. We have the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16).

5. God did not leave us alone. We have his Spirit within us and the church around us (1 Cor. 3:16; Heb. 10:25).

6. We can read encouraging devotional thoughts on a computer.

7. We can think, write, and sing.

8. My kids are (or were at the time I wrote this) sleeping soundly (that is grace for a whole bunch of reasons).

9. My wife is godly and kind and loving and forgiving…the list goes on.

10. My good health is undeserved (Eccl. 5:19).

11. I have friends that love Jesus, the gospel, the Bible, and the world.

12. I have spiritual gifts that are for the upbuilding of the church (Rom. 1:11–12; 1 Cor. 12:7).

13. I am surrounded by Christian literature (both on the bookshelves in my home and on my electronic devices).

14. We have access to sermons from men like John MacArthur, John Piper, Alistair Begg, and so many others.

15. As I type, the rains are falling and watering the ground (Job 5:10).

16. Night is a gift. Because of my finitude, I need rest (A Theology of Sleep).

17. My seminary brothers have invested time, energy, and finances in our family to help us survive in Minneapolis.

18. My church is filled with godly examples of Christian faithfulness.

19. My elders are God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated Christian hedonists.

20. I went to the store on Sunday afternoon and filled our cupboards with food.

These 20 points simply scratch the surface of God’s unmerited favor towards me.

Have you stopped lately and given serious thought to the abundant grace in your life that comes from God? It’s worth the effort to recount his grace that is present in your life.

The story of David and Goliath is one of the best known stories in the Old Testament (OT). It finds a home in our children stories and in our adult classes. It’s an OT story that made its way into popular culture through use in movie plotlines, sports analogies, and motivating speeches. The story of an ultimate underdog taking down the oversized enemy engages the emotions of both young and old.

But what is the story mainly about? Is it a story meant to teach moralistic principles? Is the story merely meant to relay a piece of Israelite history? Does it point the reader to Jesus? These are good questions that demand careful answers.

I am thankful for the movement among Christians, especially those with reformed leanings, to caution us from reading our OT (indeed, the whole Bible) in merely moralistic fashion. The Bible is more than Aesop’s Fables. That is, the Scriptures do not simply pass on a system of morality. Yet, morality is certainly not absent from the Bible. While I believe it does much more than teach moralistic ideas, David and Goliath clearly passes on moralistic principles that we should emulate. We look to the characters in the story and we love what is good and hate what is evil (Rom. 12:9). We imitate David as he lives righteously and honors the Lord (cf. Phil. 3:17).

Furthermore, the story of David and Goliath is obviously historical. The author is tracing the history of Israel’s monarchy. Specifically, the Lord has rejected Saul (1 Sam. 15) and has appointed David as the next King of Israel (1 Sam. 16). The story of David and Goliath is found in a portion of Scripture concerned with recounting the history of Saul’s collapse and David’s rise to the throne. The story of David and Goliath is an important historical development in Israel’s history and has direct bearing on the Israelite monarchy. Clearly, we learn a bit of history as we read this story.

Is the story about Jesus? Well, I believe the whole of the Bible is meant to point to Jesus. The question is, how does it do so? Do we simply read this story and jump to the idea that Jesus is our unlikely hero that fights our battle at the cross and wins the day? That’s a glorious truth, but I think more work needs to be done to read the text in its own grammatical and historical context. We must get to Jesus, but we must do so along the correct path.

Mike Riccardi, of The Masters Seminary, helpfully walks us to Jesus along what seems to be the correct hermeneutical path:

From a redemptive-historical perspective, the point of the story of David and Goliath is to bring David onto the scene of prominence. He will be the King of Israel who trusts in Yahweh in ways in which it is clear that Saul did not (1Sam 13:8–13). He will be the man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14), from the tribe of Judah (1Sam 17:12; cf. Gen 49:10)—not Benjamin, as Saul was (1Sam 9:1)—who will rule Israel in righteousness. This sets the stage for Yahweh to make His covenant with David, which promises a righteous ruler in Israel to sit on David’s throne forever and ever. This, of course, finds its fulfillment in Jesus, the Son of David, the Lion of Judah, whose dominion will be everlasting (Dan 7:14; Rev 11:15).

I think Riccardi has it mostly right. The text is a narrative concerned with the Israelite monarchy. Israel has requested an earthly king (1 Sam. 8:5) and God has given them Saul (1 Sam. 8:22; 10:19–27). Yet, Saul fails to obey the word of the Lord and loses the throne (1 Sam. 15). Now the kingship would pass to one from the tribe of Judah. This king from Judah is an unsuspecting figure. He is not a man of war, a political elite, or a prominent man in any way. He is a lowly shepherd boy. Yet, it is with David that God would establish what we know today as the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7). It is this Davidic throne that would never pass away. And it is Jesus who comes as the descendant of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of God (cf. Matt. 1:1–17).

Still, I think we can walk a little further along the hermeneutical path than Riccardi. The King of Israel that came from Judah would be akin to a lion, who you should not rouse (Gen. 49:9).  Goliath has poked the lion. Having been poked, the shepherd-boy-king goes before his people and fights on their behalf. He fights the enemy that they cannot defeat. He wins the day. And his people rise up behind him and run the rest of the enemy out of the country.

If that doesn’t raise images of Jesus in your mind, then I’m not sure what will! Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5), the King of Israel, the Son of David, goes to battle at the cross. There he triumphs over Satan, sin, and death (Col. 2:15). He conquers rebels and brings them into relationship with the Father (2 Cor. 2:14). He wins the day. And we rise up behind our conquering King and push back darkness as we share the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ with a lost and dying world.

The story of David and Goliath has plenty of moralistic principles for us to imitate. It teaches us a good bit of history. And it ultimately takes us to Jesus who comes as the Son of David to deliver his people. And it shows us that the ruler of God’s people will fight, and has fought, on their behalf.

The people of Israel needed a savior to deliver them from the Philistines. They get David. And in getting David, they get a promised Judean king.

The people of God have always needed a savior to deliver them from the wrath of God. We get the Son of David, the Son of God. We get Jesus.

David and Goliath is about the rise of the great Judean King David.

That get’s us ready for great David’s Greater Son, namely Jesus. He is the Lion from the Tribe of Judah.  He faces the giants on our behalf.

1. http://thecripplegate.com/preaching-christ-from-the-old-testament-interpretation-vs-application/