Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Gospel: The Bible's About Jesus, Not Us

And beginning with Moses [Genesis-Deuteronomy] and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures [Old Testament] the things concerning himself.
Luke 24:27

You search the Scriptures [Old Testament] because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me...
John 5:39
Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood that now cries out, not for our condemnation, but for our acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing whither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, "Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me," now we can look at God taking his Son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, "Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your Son, your only Son, whom you love from us."

Jesus is the true and better Jacob, who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God's justice, now give us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people's victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn't just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn't just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He's the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible's really not about you--it's about him.

--Tim Keller, quoted by Darrin Patrick in Church Planter: The Man, The Mission, The Message, p.142-143
Here's the message where Tim Keller reads the quote (I don't think he is the original author):

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Money, Love, Power... Christ!

Him [Christ!] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Colossians 1:28, 2:3
Throughout his letters, Paul constantly connects his practical concerns to Christ and his saving work. For example, when Paul deals with the issue of giving and financial generosity in 2 Corinthians 8, he appeals to Christ's saving work as an example [2 Corinthians 8:9]. When he challenges husbands to love their wives in Ephesians 5:25-33, he immediately discusses Christ's relationship to the church. Likewise, when Paul has to confront the Corinthians for making an idol of knowledge and power, he points them to Christ as the power and wisdom of God [1 Corinthians 1:30]. So, for Paul money, love, and power--three of the main physical, spiritual, and emotional motivators of the human heart--all find their truest expression in Christ. In Christ alone are true wealth, true intimacy, and true power. Paul responds to the practical concerns of churches filled with flawed and hurting sinners by connecting them back to Christ.
--Darrin Patrick, Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission, p.134

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why We Must Preach

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his unrighteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered his soul.
Ezekiel 3:17-21
Four different situations. In all but one of the situations, the result is death. Sobering.

Note: In what follows, when I speak of the preacher, this especially applies to those who have been made overseers of God's flock (Acts 20:28). But it still in a sense applies to every follower of Jesus because we're all watchmen (Hebrews 3:12-13, James 5:19-20, Mark 16:15-16) who proclaim (preach) not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord with ourselves as the servants of others for Jesus' sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Situation #1:

The wicked person is walking in wickedness. And the preacher doesn't warn him (v.18).

Result: The wicked will DIE for his iniquity. And the preacher will be held responsible (v.18).

Situation #2:

The wicked person is walking in wickedness. But this time the preacher warns him (v.19).

Result: The wicked will DIE for his iniquity. But the preacher will NOT be held responsible (v.19).

Situation #3:

The righteous person turns to wickedness (v.20). In this situation, it's taken for granted that the preacher didn't warn him.

Result: The righteous will DIE for his iniquity. And the preacher will be held responsible because he didn't warn him (v.20).

Situation #4:

The righteous person is walking righteously. The preacher warns him not to sin. And the righteous person doesn't sin (v.21).

Result: The righteous person will LIVE and the preacher will have delivered his soul (v.21)!


1) Whether we preach or not, the wicked are going to persist in disobedience and eventually perish (the wicked die in both situation 1 and 2) because they were destined to (1 Peter 2:8).

2) The difference between whether the righteous person turns to wickedness or not is the preacher's faithfulness or unfaithfulness as a watchman. If the preacher is unfaithful and fails to preach the message of warning, the righteous WILL turn to wickedness. If the preacher is faithful and preaches the message of warning, the righteous WILL NOT turn to wickedness. What do I base such a bold statement on? Verse 20 assumes that the reason a righteous person turns to wickedness is that the preacher didn't warn him! So, even though it's not explicit in verse 21, I conclude that if a righteous person is warned, he will not turn (completely) to wickedness.

3) The means by which God has purposed to keep His people walking in righteousness is the faithful preaching of His word--especially His warnings--by His faithful watchmen. To say it another way, the way God keeps His righteous people righteous is through the preaching of His watchmen. That's why preaching is indispensable. And since we don't know for sure who the righteous and wicked are, we must preach to everyone.

Preaching is designed by God to proactively (believers) and reactively (non-believers) save those who listen. And so whether we think they'll listen or not, that's why we preach. And that's why we must never stop preaching.
Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and your teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:11-16

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Pleasure of God in ALL He Does

Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
Psalm 135:6
The sovereignty of God is a precious reality for me and for many people in my church. How many times have we gotten word of some heart-wrenching calamity in one of our church families! We have gone to our knees before the Lord and cried out to him for their help and comfort. Time and again I have heard my people submit themselves to the sovereign will of God and seek his good purposes in it. Once a tornado ripped through our area, destroying homes and stores and uprooting huge trees. It was a Sunday afternoon. That evening we prayed. Even today, years later, I can recall a woman calling on God for mercy for the victims, and then lifting her voice to extol God for his power in the roaring wind, and asking him that we all be humbled and brought to repentance before such majestic authority.

The son of one of our former deacons was run over by a motor boat. He lived, but his knees were badly damaged, and there were superficial nicks on his chest and neck from the propeller. When his father testified in a deacon meeting, he said that his main comfort and lesson was the sovereignty of God. "God has his purposes for the life of my son," he said, "and my for my whole family. This will turn out for the good of all of us as we trust in him. God could have taken my son with another half-inch difference. But instead he said to the blade: 'This far and no farther.' [Job 38:8-11]"

God does not always stop the blade. On December 6, 1974, he did not save my mother's life. She was riding with my father on a touring bus heading toward Bethlehem in Israel. A van with lumber tied on the roof swerved out of its lane and hit the bus head on. The lumber came through the windows and killed my mother instantly. The death certificate said, "lacerated medulla oblongata." When we saw her body ten days later, after the funeral home did the best it could, my sister fainted. My father wept alone over the coffin for a long time...

What was my comfort in those days? There we many. She suffered little. I had her for twenty-eight years as the best mother imaginable. She had known my wife and one of my children. She was now in heaven with Jesus. Her life was rich with good deeds and its good effects would last long after she was gone. And underneath all these comforts, supporting all my unanswered questions, and calming my heart, there was the confidence that God is in control and God is good. I took no comfort from the prospect that God could not control the flight of a four-by-four. For me there was no consolation in haphazardness [chance, randomness]. Nor in giving Satan the upper hand. As I knelt by my bed and wept, having received the dreaded phone call from my brother-in-law, I never doubted that God was sovereign over this accident and that God was good. I do not need to explain everything. That he reigns and that he loves is enough for now.

So let us stand in awe and wonder of God--eternally happy in the fellowship of the Trinity; infinitely exuberant in the wisdom of his work; free and sovereign in his self-sufficiency. "Our God is in heaven; he does all that he pleases" [Psalm 115:3]. Let us humble ourselves under his mighty hand, and rejoice that his counsel will stand [Proverbs 19:21], and that one day all the families of the nations will worship before him; for dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations [Psalm 22:27-28].

--John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God, p. 74-75

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Belong To Him. That's It. I'm All In.

...through [Jesus Christ] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:5-6

Love you Driscoll.

Thank You Jesus.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

May We Never Take Our Eyes Away...

...from the cross.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Matthew 27:45-46

So forever will I tell, in three hours Christ suffered more than any sinner ever will in hell.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Holding Fast To Jesus' Name

I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny your faith in me even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
Revelation 2:13
...because a missional church is biblical, a missional church is always, only, solely, fully, passionately, uncompromisingly, wholeheartedly, unwaveringly, and continually all about Jesus as God, Savior, Lord, Hero, Hope, and Friend! The missional church does not want to use vague terms and titles such as God into which non-Christians and false teachers can pour their own unbiblical meaning, so in missional churches the name of Jesus is often used instead.
--Mark Driscoll, Vintage Church: Timeless Truths and Timely Methods, p.221-222
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:12

Monday, September 06, 2010

Light Up My Eyes! A Brief Meditation on Darkness and Light in Psalm 13

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Psalm 13:1-2
Light (!):
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 13:5-6
What happened to bring David out of the darkness and into this light? God's decisive action in response to David's prayer.
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes
, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy says, "I have prevailed over him,"

lest my enemies rejoice because I am shaken.

Psalm 13:3-4 (emphasis added)
Light up my eyes! That is the essence of David's prayer. The problem in David's life isn't that there is no light. The problem is that he can't see the light. The problem is with his perception. The light is there! But only God can enable him to see it by faith. And the testimony of this psalm is that God does enable him to see it by faith!

Apart from God's decisive action to light up our eyes by giving us faith, our natural tendency every day is to see darkness.

Which is why Paul prays for the church at Ephesus (and for the entire church of Jesus Christ):
...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened (that He would light up your eyes!), [so] that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Ephesians 1:17-21

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Does God Cause Or Allow Suffering? A Real Life Testimony

When Connor was injured two summers ago, we were thrown topsy turvy. Yes, we were followers of Christ, and had a spiritual foundation in Him. But we weren’t very good at it, to be honest. Our family - spiritually, emotionally, and physically - should have probably been declared a federal disaster area.

We grabbed on and clung to the only sure thing we knew - God. We held on to Him like a drowning man clings to a rock in a storm (which is probably why that’s a common imagery for His provision in times of trouble!). During that time, we often asked how this disaster could have happened to us, and we found comfort in the thought that “...God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NASB).

But for whatever reason, this often brought up an interesting debate - did God cause Connor’s accident, or did He allow it to happen? Some folks seem more comfortable with the idea that God lets bad things happen in our lives, than with the concept of Him making bad things happen in our lives. What about you?
I highly recommend you read the rest of this post.

Friday, September 03, 2010

I Don't Want To Build A Museum...

...I want to be a part of a movement.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Father, please grant me the enduring grace to live and act like a man, Your kind of man. For Jesus' sake, Amen.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Jesus Is Better Than Reminiscing

Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:62

Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
Luke 17:32-33

As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city." But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, "Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away."...The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Genesis 19:15-17, 24-26