Connection Points

Posted: April 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

Connection

1. Kevin DeYoung and an important book on homosexuality.

2. Dr. Russell Moore and free lectures on the gospel and cultural engagement.

3. Non-Christian panelists at TGC.

4. David Schrock reflects on how royalty can change views on abortion.

5. Rosaria Butterfield on the dead end of sexual sin.

Freebie: UK headlines college hoops once again.

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The Good of the Gospel

Posted: March 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

What is the ultimate good of the gospel? John Piper writes,

When I say that God Is the Gospel I mean that the highest, best, final, decisive good of the gospel, without which no other gifts would be good, is the glory of God in the face of Christ revealed for our ever-lasting enjoyment. The saving love of God is God’s commitment to do everything necessary to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying, namely himself (Piper, God Is the Gospel,13).

Or,

The ultimate good of the gospel is seeing and savoring the beauty and value of God (Piper, God Is the Gospel, 56)

The good news of forgiveness, justification, redemption, salvation, etc. is that all these things clear the way for you to be reconciled with the most satisfying person in the universe. And that most satisfying person is the God of the Bible. Through the blood of Jesus and by the wonder-working power of the Spirit, God has reconciled us to himself (2 Cor. 5:18–20).

That is the greatest good of the good news.

The Church and Homosexuality

Posted: March 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

There are explosive issues that surround the church in every age. Today, the most explosive issue is probably that of homosexuality and the Christian. Can you be a practicing homosexual and a faithful Christian? Should we use phrases like, “Gay Christian,” or something else? The questions are legion and the conversations are numerable.

I believe the Bible teaches that homosexuality is not part of God’s original design. Instead, same-sex sexual attraction is the result of Genesis 3 and the fall of mankind into sin. I do not believe that those who struggle with homosexuality are worse sinners than myself. With Paul, I say that I am the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). Yet, just as I must repent of my sins (and they are numerous), so the homosexual must repent of their sins and trust in Christ.

The audio linked below tries to bring together a few leading voices in order to address whether or not the church is failing “gay Christians” pastorally. In other words, what is the pastoral response to this issue and has the church failed in that area?

For what it is worth, I do believe the church has failed those who struggle with homosexuality. We often sound more hateful than loving. We want to make sure we announce anathema over homosexuals instead of assuring them that there is grace and forgiveness and new-creational life that comes through the new birth and faith in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). We scowl instead of weep. That is one evangelical failure.

Traditionally, the evangelical church has not failed theologically. That is, the church is right (and has been right) to affirm heterosexual relationships as God’s good design (Gen. 2:23–24). The church is right to preach and teach that homosexuality is sinful (1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10) and not part of God’s good design. Though evangelicals have failed in numerous ways, this is not one of the failures.

Now, what is painfully obvious in the discussion below is that you cannot talk about the pastoral response to homosexuality in any meaningful way when you disagree on the fundamental theology regarding the issue. Referencing the audio linked at the end of this post, Denny Burk writes the following:

“The host tries to frame the discussion not as a debate about what the Bible says but as a discussion of the church’s pastoral response to homosexuality. As the conversation unfolds, it becomes clear that this tack is a dead-end. One can hardly bypass biblical truth in formulating a pastoral response to homosexuality. It would be like a doctor prescribing treatment before reaching a diagnosis. He can’t offer treatment if he doesn’t know what the problem is. And if he administers treatment based on a misdiagnosis, he will very likely harm the patient.”

Listen to the audio discussion here.

One of the themes found throughout the entire New Testament is the supremacy of Jesus. In the Gospel accounts Jesus rules over the natural and supernatural world. In the writings of Paul, Jesus is supreme with reference to the salvation of sinners. And when the reader of the NT comes to the end of the Bible, it is Jesus who is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).

The overarching message of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church is that Jesus is supreme. It seems there is a form of false teaching that has surrounded the Colossian church that is in some way undermining the supremacy of Christ.[1] Paul challenges the false teaching by showing how Christ is supreme over creation (1:15–20), human philosophy (2:8), and religious ceremonialism (2:16–29). Furthermore, since Christ is supreme, the Colossians should “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (3:1).

Take time to remind yourself of the one you follow. Jesus is supreme over everything. That is our Savior and that is stunning.

[1] The specific heresy, if indeed there was one, that was plaguing the Colossian church is of some debate. For helpful discussions, see Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos, 285–87; Carson and Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 523–25. Also, David W. Pao, Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Colossians & Philemon, 25–31.

Monday I will share with some guys at the seminary some things I’ve seen and savored from 1 Corinthians 1:4–9. In short, Paul is able to give thanks to God for the Corinthians because of the grace of God that they have been given in Christ. Thus, God’s grace fuels Paul’s thanksgiving.

Here is my attempt to trace the argument found in these five verses:

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 10.46.33 AM

Let me explain:

First, Paul gives thanks (vs. 4a). This is a bit surprising given the mess the Corinthian congregation is in.

Second, vs. 4b through vs. 9 gives us the ground (G) for Paul’s thanksgiving. Paul can give thanks because God has been gracious in the past (vs. 4b–6). This past grace has resulted in present gifts of grace (vs. 7). Past and present grace give rise to hope in future grace (vs. 8).

Third, this recounting of past, present, and future grace leads to Paul’s doxological conclusion: God is faithful (vs.9).

Thus, God’s grace (past, present, future) fuels the fires of Paul’s thanksgiving even in the midst of a mess.

Ordinary Christianity

Posted: March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

This post originally appeared at Desiring God.

Christians are supposed to have an impact on the world in which we live. Like the followers of Jesus in Acts 17:6–7, present-day followers of Jesus should be turning the world upside down. However, when we think about turning the world upside down for Jesus, we often think we must live “radical” lives. That is, we need to sell our Chevrolet, give up movies, and relocate to the Bolivian jungle in order to engage nomadic peoples who’ve never heard the gospel. That is thereal way we make a serious impact.

Tony Merida has a different perspective. In his book Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, Tony calls Christians to a new normal: “Most gospel ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality” (9). If we can understand this, then we might see an “‘ordinary movement’ that involves ordinary Christians, not just ‘super Christians,’ who live on mission in the rhythms of everyday life.”

Continue Reading….

A God of Love and Justice

Posted: March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

Steering between ditches.

Swinging the pendulum.

Balancing your views.

Allowing for nuance.

These are all ways you could describe the attempt to hold seemingly contradictory truths in correct tension. That is, there are certain truth claims that seem to contradict another set of truth claims. In some instances a contradiction may indeed exist. Yet, at other times the seemingly contradictory truth claims are both true. It simply takes a bit of time to think carefully about the issue to see how they fit together.

The Bible presents us with truth claims that are sometimes difficult to square. In those instances we must think carefully and steer between the ditches. In our attempt to hold views in tension we must be careful not to swing the pendulum too far in one direction or the other. The truth claims must be balanced. And these things are often accomplished by allowing for nuance.

A case in point is the idea that the God of the Bible is both a loving God and a just God. He is both merciful and wrathful. He forgives and he judges. As Jeremiah states, the Lord “practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth (Jer. 9:24). Indeed, he delights in these things! The same God who forgives the repentant sinner (Neh. 9:17) casts the unrepentant into outer darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13).

Does the Bible really present God in this way? If so, how do these ideas fit together to give us a coherent picture of our great God?

The God of Love

John writes, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). The idea that God is love is readily acknowledged and enthusiastically embraced. We love this God who loves us while we are yet sinners (Rom. 5:8). We bank our hope on his love for us.

This love of God has spilled over to the benefit of the world. The Father so loved the world that he sends his only Son to die in order that those who believe in him would not perish but live forever (John 3:16). This is amazing love. It is love that does what is best for God’s people. It is an unfailing and unstoppable love.

However, this love does not mean that God lacks anger, or is unconcerned with the exercise of justice, or will fail to pour out his wrath. The idea that God is love does not mean that sin is un-offensive to God or that he is unwilling to judge the wicked. While he is love, he also exercises justice.

The God of Justice

God is just and upright. He does what is right and exercises justice (Deut. 32:4; Jer. 9:24). The idea is clear when Moses writes, “the LORD…will by no means clear the guilty” (Ex. 34:7). Indeed, “the LORD your God [is] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate [him]…” (Deu. 5:9).

To be clear, we must note that the NT does not present a different picture. Jesus speaks of a day of wrath when the wicked will be cast into eternal fire (Matt. 25:41). And Paul speaks of the day when God’s “righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom. 2:5).

Examples could abound. What is mentioned already should suffice to show God is love and he delights in exercising judgment.

Love and Justice, A Contradiction? 

The question is obvious. Is the Bible offering two competing, and thus contradictory views, of God?

This isn’t a new question. Various attempts to explain the dilemma have been offered. Marcion, an important figure in Church History, tried to separate the God of Israel in the OT from the all-forgiving God of the NT. Others try to mute the idea that sin offends God (see The Shack for an example).

There are better ways to understand the issue. We do not have to see two different gods at work. And we need not explain away the offensiveness of sin.

The God of Love and Justice

First, we can hold the two together by realizing that exercising justice is not unloving. Who could rightly call a judge unloving for sentencing a convicted criminal to prison? The judge who faithfully fulfills his duty is not unloving. He is a good judge.

The whole human race stands before God as those who have committed cosmic treason. We are guilty and will not be cleared (Ex. 34:7).

Why? Because God is a good judge. He does what is right. He upholds justice.

Second, the exercise of justice at the cross, as God pours out his wrath on Jesus, is the greatest act of love imaginable. God’s commitment to justice does not allow for the sweeping of sin under the rug. But God’s commitment to love moves him to send his Son to die in the place of sinners. At the cross, love and justice meet.

John Piper writes, “If God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die. But God is both just and loving. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice” (Piper, Fifty Reasons, 20).

The clearest picture of how God can be both just and loving is seen at the cross of Jesus Christ.

God does not clear the guilty. But he does provide a substitute. And when this substitute goes to the cross, the love and justice of God are put on display.

That, dear friend, is the gospel.