8.29.2015

Lust // Head Coverings // ISIS atrocities on NYT

David Brooks of the New York Times shines the light on ISIS's brutality and deliberate return to Medieval Islam.


Kevin DeYoung on lust.


Ben Merkle on the Gospel Coalition on head coverings, arguing the argument from nature is indirect in 1 Corinthians 11, thus the specific practice of head coverings is not required today.

Gregg Strawbridge on head coverings, makes a big deal of 1 Corinthians 11:16, that there is no apostolic tradition or position to assert as far as the specific practice.

2 Chronicles 4-6

4
Temple altar made - about 30 feet square and 15 feet high.
Water basin made, holding 18,000 gallons set on 12 bronze oxen for a stand.
10 tables for bread made, with 10 lampstands
Dishes and utensils also.

5
Solomon brings in the ark, sacrificing many animals and all the Levites are there praising God with music.

6
Solomon preaches from a pulpit in the temple built for the occasion.  He recalls God's promise to build David a house, and declares it fulfilled, since he is on the throne and the temple is built.  He kneels on the pulpit and prays, extolling God and asking Him to hear prayers from this temple.  The main purpose of answering these prayers is that Israel and all nations might know and fear God.


How this is about Jesus
Though Solomon declares God's promise fulfilled, there is a deeper fulfillment in Christ being the Son of David on the throne (Luke 1:32-33) and being the temple rebuilt and more glorified (John 2:19-22).


Application
Does our public worship today reflect God's beauty, and a zeal for God's name and promises kept in Christ?

8.28.2015

New Life and Conversion

Part 9 - The Holy Spirit
Chapter 41 - Regeneration and Conversion - Subjective Salvation

Because of the work of Christ, and the Spirit applying that work to us, many things happen to us.  The gospel isn't only objective events, but an inward change in people.  We begin with regeneration and conversion.

Regeneration
The Old Testament required a contrite and tender heart toward God.
Jesus told Nicodemus we have to be born again, by water and Spirit, to see the Kingdom of God.
This fits with Ezekiel's promise to sprinkle water on us and give us a new heart (36:25-26).
We don't see regeneration, but see what it does (John 3:7-8):
- faith, good works, rejecting sin, love, fruit of the Spirit.
Paul speaks of a new creation, or resurrection, which all means regeneration.  All these metaphors for new spiritual life emphasize that God is sovereign over and does it.

1 Peter 1:23 and James 1:18 speak of our being born again by the Word of God.  This seems to describe not the absolute beginning of our spiritual life, but our growth in new life.
[I think I disagree with Frame here.  It seems instead that Paul speaks of our conversion and regeneration combined.  He IS talking about the beginning of our spiritual life, which is almost always attended by the Word as a midwife.]

Regeneration can happen at any point, including in infancy.  John lept for joy in Elizabeth's womb, at the coming of Jesus, also in utero.  [A powerful reminder of the person-hood of the fetus in the womb!]  God may regenerate many who can't express faith in response to the Word.

Faith
It is a gift from God (Acts 16:14), but nevertheless something we DO.
Faith is made up of knowledge, belief and trust.
Knowledge is what we know about God, His Word, especially our sin and His holiness, His remedy found in the cross and resurrection of Christ.  Faith is just a blind leap in the dark without knowledge.
Belief is accepting this knowledge as true.  This is sometimes called assent.
Trust is letting this belief govern your life, submitting yourself to Jesus, loyalty to Him.  The demons lack this, though they know and believe that Jesus is the savior (James 2:19).
The Bible sometimes talks about faith or belief but means less than saving faith.  John 8:31 is an example.
Faith leads to good works.  Works don't earn salvation, but are an evidence of faith.
Faith is required for salvation, except for those incapable of expressing it (infants and the disabled).  We need to urge faith in Christ upon all.

Repentance
The flip side of faith, we have sorrow at the knowledge of our sin, renounce it believing it to be wrong, and leave it as we go to Christ and are governed by the truth we believe.
Repenting doesn't earn your salvation, but it is necessary for salvation.
We need to live lives of repentance, not just at our conversion.  Humble quickness to repent is desperately needed in the church today!

8.27.2015

The Call of God

Part 9 - The Holy Spirit
Chapter 40 - Calling

God applies the work of Christ's redemption to us through the Spirit, Who calls, regenerates, converts, justifies, adopts, sanctifies, preserves, and glorifies us.  This is the traditional ordo salutis, order of salvation.

The Father decrees our salvation (normative perspective - Ephesians 1:4), the Son accomplishes atonement in history (situational perspective - Eph. 1:7), and the Spirit applies it to us personally (existential perspective - Eph. 1:13).

We are justified from our guilt (normative), adopted instead of punished (situational), and regenerated from our corruption (existential).

Effectual call
This is a summons into fellowship with Christ.  It comes at a point in history, so the elect are dead in trespasses and sins until the call takes effect.  When it does, we do not resist it, but respond with faith.  The Father calls us, while the Spirit regenerates us.

Other callings of God are the call to
- church office - Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 1:1
- faith, in the free offer of the gospel - Prov. 8:4-5; Matt.22:14
- vocation - 1 Cor. 7:20-24 is used here, but doesn't directly name our professions or roles in life as callings.

8.26.2015

Thank God for same-sex ruling?? // Dump Trump // Hope in Organic and Oil?

1.  This is one of the best things I've read on the high court's same-sex marriage ruling.
There are actually good things that will come of this.  His first reason of 5 is insightful.  It reminds me of Bonhoffer's question: what do I do if my nation asks of me something God forbids?
"God is behind this and is not only using the decision to judge the nation for its abandonment of Him and the marriage covenant, but is also using it to stir up His people to stand steadfast..."



2.  Quoting Doug Wilson, on Trump:
"Donald Trump’s ball cap tells us that he wants to make America great again. Cool. On whose terms? For a certain kind of conservative, the desirability of America being great is a given. Of course we should be great — that’s axiomatic. Why? Follow the argument closely here: because we’re us!

"I would much prefer that we meet the conditions of being made great again, and that cannot happen apart from a genuine humbling and bone deep repentance. This contrasts sharply with Donald Trump’s biblical tone deafness on the subject of repentant humility. “I think repenting is terrific.”

"Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and He will lift you up. Anything else is seeking out a divine smack down. God opposes the proud, and that would include proud conservatives."




3. Desiring God has a great article up about organic food, essential oils, and similar things, that we are tempted to put hope in.  Which hope comes out in how evangelistic we are about them in our relationships.  I see a lot of lip service paid to the truth here (these things don't save us, of course), but then pressure later in one on one conversations (but you really need this, this is really better, you're hurting yourself if you don't switch).  It's another form of legalism, if we aren't careful, overly relying on what is (maybe) a good thing.

1 Corinthians 13-16

13
Love is the greatest spiritual gift.  Without it all my tongue-speaking, prophecies, faith and giving aren't worth anything.  Love is patient and kind.  It doesn't envy, boast, be rude or insist on its way, doesn't resent people or rejoice at wrong.  Prophecies and tongues and knowledge will pass away, but not love.  It will become stronger when we see God face to face.

14
So pursue love.  And prophecy is better than tongues, because you build others up more with it.
Stay orderly in public worship, interpreting tongues, and keeping women from trying to speak with such authority.  Thinking yourself a prophet, even being one, doesn't make you exempt from other spiritual authority.

15
Central to our faith is Christ's resurrection.  He appeared to all the apostles, many others, and to me last.  So how can some of you assert there is no resurrection?  Your faith is pointless then.  Our resurrection will be like Christ's, and will consummate His kingdom.  Why should we work for Christ or at all if there is no resurrection?  Objecting that we don't know what our bodies will be like is silly. We already see different kinds of flesh on earth, so we have an idea.  Natural man, Adam came first, and the spiritual man Jesus last.  Just as we began like Adam, we will finish like Jesus.  We will all change, either at death or His coming, from perishable to imperishable.  Death will be conquered - Jesus got the victory!  So work hard, because your labor counts for eternity.

16
Take a collection every week, and save it up for when I come to bring it to Jerusalem.
I'd like to stay with you for a while, but I'm in Ephesus doing important work right now.
Respect Timothy, though he is young, and Stephanas and Fortunatus.
Do everything in love.
The Asian (Turkish!) Christians greet you.
Christ's grace be with you.

2 Chronicles 1-3

1
Solomon goes to Gibeon to worship God, and God speaks with him, asking him to ask for anything he wants.  Solomon asks for God to keep His promise He made to David about his rule, and for the wisdom to rule well.  God grants it, and promises wealth and honor along with it.  Solomon becomes very wealthy as an arms middleman between Egypt and Syria.

2
Solomon buys wood and fabric from Tyre, for wheat, wine and oil.  He organizes all non-Israelites (former Canaanites?) into a workforce.

3
Temple building begins.  Lots of wood overlaid with gold.  Two cherubim to go over the ark, and two pillars with capitals.


Solomon trades fairly with the nations.  Just because Christ is King of kings and will subdue all nations to Himself, is no reason to take advantage of other nations.

Israel is building a temple for an ark they already have from Moses.  But everything else is remade.  New wineskins for new wine, but the same God, people, covenant and history at the root of it all.

1 Chronicles 26-29

26 - Levites who were gatekeepers, treasurers and judges are listed.
27 - Military divisions: there were 12, one for each month, and 24,000 soldiers to each.  They do not appear to be by tribe, which was new since the time of the judges.  Tribal leaders are given next, so this identity isn't gone.  Stewards of the king's flocks, fields, vineyards and treasuries are listed.

28 - all this organization has been buildup to building the temple.  David again charges Israel and Solomon to build it, after asserting that God made Judah and David leader of Israel.  He presents detailed plans for the temple.  David has prepared all the material and organized manpower.  All that's left for Solomon is to do it.

29 - David publicly gives gold and silver to the temple work and calls on Israel to give, and they do.  David thanks God and calls on Israel to worship Him, and they do.
Solomon is installed as king and David dies.


How this is about Jesus
There is a parallel with Jesus' life.  Building His church doesn't really begin until after His death.  Note the future tense in "I will build My church" (Matthew 16:18).  But He organizes His people into 12 divisions/apostles to prepare for it.


Application
Lead by example in worship and giving, as David does here.
The military appears to be a "serve 1 month out of the year" reserve style, rather than a standing army.  Hm...
Organization has a larger purpose than just feeling good about yourself.  What is the purpose of any and every nation?  To glorify and aggrandize itself?  NO.  To build and beautify a place for the worship of God, and direct all its people to do so.

8.25.2015

1 Chronicles 23-25

23
David organizes the 38,000 Levites who are 30-50 years old.  24,000 help with the temple sacrificial service, 6,000 are judges, 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 musicians.

24
David organizes the priests into 24 divisions, taking turns offering the sacrifices.

25
Musicians are noted - 288 skillful ones.  Note that they "prophesy."  Song writers are prophets.
Asaph works under the king's (David) direction.
They are also organized in 24 divisions, taking turns in the temple.


How this is about Jesus
He organizes His church in the New Testament similarly, with elders (like priests leading worship, song and sacrifice of praise) and deacons (Levites helping with all body life administration).


Application
It's interesting the priests and levites couldn't organize themselves well and needed the king to step in and do it.  Or this just happens providentially to show the priest and king roles merge in Christ, the fulfillment of King David.  In any society, comparing the state, family and church, the state is usually the most developed as far as leadership and resources poured into it.  But there are times in history when the church or the family received more focus than the state.

If you have an important task to do, organize yourself to make sure it gets done!

1 Chronicles 20-22

20
Defeat of the Ammonites, with the Bathsheba incident left out.
Defeat of Philistine giants - Goliath's tribe and kin.

21
David sins by taking a military census (1,570,000 in Israel and Judah).
God has him choose a punishment, and he chooses the one that doesn't involve others conquering.
God does have mercy, though 70,000 die first.  He stops at a certain spot in Jerusalem, which becomes the temple site.  David intercedes for Israel there.  He buys the property at personal cost, sacrifices, the plague is stopped there, and fire comes down from heaven on it.  David names this the spot for the future temple.

22
David prepares material for the temple, and charges Solomon to build it, and his administration to help him.


How this is about Jesus
Chapter 21 is central.  The angel dealing out the plague stands between heaven and earth over Jerusalem, just as Jesus hangs on the cross between heaven and earth, taking the plague and curse on Himself.  He intercedes for His sheep, pleading His own blood.  David insisted on the sacrifice costing himself and none other, and Jesus does likewise, to the hilt.


Application
Offer as full and complete recompense for your sins as you know how.
Provide for your children opportunities and direction to work for God.  Identify the giants and go take them out.

8.24.2015

1 Chronicles 17-19

17
David tells Nathan the prophet that he plans to build God a temple.
God comes to Nathan and says no, but God will plant Israel securely and give David an everlasting  lineage.  David's son will build a temple.
David goes to God and thanks Him humbly for all He has done: "Let it be as you have said."

18 - David defeats Philistines, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Amalek, and even Syria.
19
The Ammonites insult Israel.  Israel musters for battle.  Ammon hires Syrian mercenaries, and it's a tough battle, but thanks to Joab and Abishai, Israel wins.  The Syrians muster their whole country after the mercenaries lose, and Israel defeats them again.


How this is about Jesus
These chapters pre-figure Jesus in two ways.
17 - He is the son of David who will have David's throne forever (Luke 1:32).
18-19 - He is the King of kings, who will subdue under Himself all nations.


Application
Sometimes God has other plans, when we are all piously resolved to do great things for Him.
God's people have many enemies, but He will see them protected and victorious.
We need to fight when the enemy seems overwhelming, instead of fleeing or giving up.

8.21.2015

Psalm 87-88

87
Many cities know of the true God, but Zion, Jerusalem, will be marked out as special by everybody.
We find much comfort in, and speak glorious things of, Zion.

88
I'm in trouble, near death, and discouraged.
Why won't You help me, Lord, or even give me a sense of Your presence?
Even my friends and wife shun me, and I'm alone in the dark.


How this is about Jesus
87 - He is what makes Zion glorious (Ephesians 5:25-28).
88 - He went through the darkness of being forsaken by God.


Application
87 - We should lift up and esteem the church more than we do, since she is dearly loved by God and Christ died for her.  Speak glorious things of the church.

88 - This is one of the few Psalms that doesn't turn the corner to words of faith and hope.  Sometimes we are just stuck.  But the Psalmist is still praying, still talking to God.  When that stops, we should worry...

1 Corinthians 9-12

9
As an apostle to you, I have a right to some physical benefits.  But I'm not demanding anything.  I have to preach, anyway.  I'm living as a servant to everyone, to win whoever I can to the Lord Jesus.  This takes discipline, like an athlete training for the race.

10
Israel all partook of the benefits of Christ i the Exodus, but most of them fell dead in the desert in unbelief.  Don't wind up like that.  You may be tempted, but God will help you stand.  You are partaking of Christ when you take the Lord's Supper; so don't go to idol feasts, too.  You can eat what you want from the meat market, even if it's come from an idol's temple.  But if others show fear of an idol, don't run roughshod over such an awareness - temper your actions to sensitive consciences of others.  Seek God's glory in everything.

11
Keep natural gender distinctions as expressed by the culture obvious in worship.
Don't show partiality at the Lord's Table.  Treat everyone the same.  Jesus gave His body and blood for each of you, and you partake of it in the bread and wine, so don't sin as you distribute and eat.  Judge yourself, so God won't have to.  Do the Supper so it's obvious that we are all equal in receiving it.  The Supper shouldn't be to satisfy hunger.

12
The Spirit leads us to believe in Jesus, and He also gives each of us abilities to serve each other: speaking wisdom, faith, healing, discernment.  The same Spirit does this for the one Body of Christ.  We are each different members, but meant to function as one.


How this is about Jesus
9 - He also surrendered His crown rights when He came to us on earth.
10 - He was with Israel in the desert.  He doesn't tolerate loyalty to other gods.
11 - He is the redeemer of our fellow Christians, so we may not demean them in how we worship.
12 - He gives us the Spirit, who equips us with gifts, so we can better bear witness to the love and truth of Christ Himself.  The Spirit and His gifts are from Jesus and for Jesus.


Application
9 - We should bend over backwards not to offend people, when it doesn't compromise the Gospel, so relationship is there to move them toward the Lord Jesus.
10 - Don't presume you are the center and God will always help you, regardless.  You have to keep conforming to His standard, and many of His people have not done so.
11 - How we relate to others in public worship is important.  Gender distinctions don't go away, and honor and submission should be shown.  Class distinctions should go away when we worship.
12 - Pursue skills and abilities that help others the most.  Don't begrudge others their gifts, or think you have to be like others.  Appreciate different gifts in others, and learn from others.

8.19.2015

Regeneration

Part 5 - Soteriology
Chapter 29 - Puritans on Regeneration

Puritans with the earlier Reformers rejected baptismal regeneration of Rome.  So they had to explain how regeneration happened, then.

Earlier Reformers used the term regeneration about every point of the Christian life, not just the beginning.  God's call and our regeneration were used interchangeably until the second generation Reformers, when Turretin said, "A thing [regenerated new life] ought to exist before it can work [respond to God's call]" (465).

Regeneration is necessary for us.  Jesus tells Nicodemus so in John 3 ("You must be born again.")
We must be made new to be fit for God.  Without this, the cross of Christ does not bring us to God.
It's one thing to know what the new life is, but another thing to have it.

Regeneration is neither a physical and substantial change to our makeup, nor simply the Spirit helping us be better.  It is an inward change, not merely outward.  It is God's work, not partly ours, since we are dead when it happens.  The Puritans used the word physical to describe the Spirit's work of regeneration, but this was in opposition to the Arminian idea of regeneration as moral persuasion.  They said the Spirit wouldn't force the will as if we were blocks of stone, but only persuade it.  The Puritans said regeneration was an actual (their word "physical) change of our will.

God works regeneration immediately in our hearts, especially considering elect infants, and He usually uses the Word of God to do it.

Regeneration renews every part of man, mind, heart and will.  Rome may think only one part is fallen and needs to be restored.  Arminians think the will is coaxed.  But each part is reborn, to know, love and choose God.

Regeneration is irresistible by definition.  It is the Spirit making alive and freeing the will of man to do what it was made to do.  This doesn't make us puppets, but what we were made for.  Romans 9:19; James 1:18 demonstrate this.  Verses that speak of resisting the Spirit mean His outward call, not inward regeneration.

Regeneration can't be undone.  God starts what He finishes (Phil. 1:6).  It isn't that we endured, but that God preserves us.

Regeneration only happens to the elect. 1 Peter 1:2-3 connects the elect tightly with those born again.  They are the same group.

Regeneration does not happen automatically at baptism, though in the elect the Spirit uses baptism as a means to bring new life about.

You can tell regeneration by certain signs.  A willingness to be examined, a love for the saints, respect for God's commandments, a working against all sin (1 John 3:9-10).  False signs are a profession of faith without works to prove it (James 2), seeking repentance to avoid punishment only, and seeking the Lord for "outward mercies" only.


This was all excellent.  Some in my circles question many of these points, but I do not.  From John 3 to 1 Peter 1:2-3, Scripture teaches what the Puritans articulated, especially in Westminster.

When is a Woman Doing a "Man's Job"? / Christian Liberty / Liberals are Dividing the Church

1. John Piper gives a pretty good explanation of when a woman is doing a "man's job."


2. Sinclair Ferguson lays out Christian liberty principles from Romans 14-15 with fresh light.


3.  Many churches in the Reformed Church in America are now discussing homosexuality (or women's ordination, if they are conservative), and they need to read this, by Jared Wilson.  When a liberal position is newly adopted in their congregation, the conservatives who leave are not the divisive ones.  Those driving the church off the biblical road of orthodoxy into the ditch are the divisive ones.

This hits very close to home for me, but it must be said.

If you are trying to change a church's view away from the Scriptural teaching restricting the office of elder to men, or away from disciplining unrepentant homosexual practice, if you are trying to impose different views on a congregation that has held the traditional view up until now, you are being divisive.  From the article:
"it isn’t those who believe the Bible when it says sin is sin that are being divisive; it is those who are introducing the idea that some sins aren’t. If you push a decision on something that innovates on the Bible’s testimony, you’re creating the division."
The whole piece is barely over a screen in length, check it out - gold from the Gospel Coalition.