Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Scapegoat

The definition of a scapegoat is one who is made to take on the blame for the actions of others; actions that they were not responsible for. History has shown that this has been applied to both individuals and groups. One prominent example in history is that of the Jews.

But the greatest scapegoat in history is our Lord Jesus Christ. While the term scapegoat is a term not directly used In reference to Him in Scripture, the male goat that was used in the Old Testament sacrificial system is actually a picture of the ultimate sacrifice for sins that Jesus made through His death. [1]

Leviticus describes the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. In chapter 16, verses 6-10, two goats were cast lots over. One was chosen as a sin offering and the second was to be presented live before the Lord to make atonement, so that it would be sent into the wilderness as the scapegoat.

7"He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 8"Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9"Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering. 10"But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat. (Leviticus 16:7-10, NASB)

The first goat was killed and its blood was sprinkled over and before the mercy seat in the Holy Place. The Holy Place was where God manifest His presence, and this sacrifice was a picture of the propitiatory sacrifice Jesus made on the cross (the propitiation was discussed in a previous post).

But the second was used to symbolically take the sins of the people and carry them away, once and for all. The priest would lay hands on the head of the goat, confessing the sins of the people. The goat was then released where it would carry on itself the sins of the people to a solitary place, where it would never be seen again. This goat was referred to as the scapegoat, because it bore all the guilt and sins of the people, taking it away into the desert. [2]

20"And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. 21And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. 22The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:20-22, ESV)

Because the goats represented the work of Christ on our behalf, we say that Christ became our scapegoat, who bore all the guilt of our sins, removing them from the presence of God the Father. Our sins were placed on the Lord Jesus Christ and were carried away, literally, to be remembered no more. One of the verses of Scripture that beautifully expresses this reality is Psalm 103:12.

12as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103:12, ESV)

This expression signifies a distance as far reaching as we can express through our human vocabulary. This is an infinite distance that describes what God did with our sin. All our sin was removed from God’s presence forever. Jesus literally accomplished what the goat could only do symbolically. Now that our sins are removed, we can enter into the presence of God boldly (Hebrews 10:19, KJV). [3]

But there is more from Scripture that describes what God has done in terms of taking away our sin, taking it out of sight.

Isaiah 38:17
Isaiah 43:25
Hebrews 8:12
Hebrews 10:17-18

This great truth should comfort and inspire us. We should find comfort in the fact that we are completely forgiven in Christ. We, who were previously stained with the guilt of sin through Adam, are now cleansed and completely forgiven. Our sin inherited through Adam, has been taken out of God’s sight to be remembered no more. As a result of the removal of those sins, we should be motivated to deal with those that we commit in our daily lives. In the Old Testament, the sins were carried away only symbolically, but through Jesus Christ, it has become a reality for us.

It is imperative that we believe the testimony of God given to us through Scripture in order for us to live out the implications of the gospel in our lives. We receive such incredible benefit in our lives as a result of the work of Christ on our behalf. One profound benefit is with our conscience. Our conscience was given t us by God to serve as a moral compass. This conscience bears witness of God’s Law. However, as a result of our sin, our conscience has a tendency to become hardened, resulting in insensitivity to our violation of God’s Laws. But as we commit to grow in Christ, our conscience becomes more sensitive to sin as we become more convicted of our violation of God’s Law. As we face the reality of our sinfulness, we need to cling to the fact that Jesus has already removed our sin and carried it away forever, permanently taken away from the presence of God, and is no longer remembered by Him. Our guilt has been removed! [4]

Hebrews 9:14 expresses this cleansing of our conscience from the guilt of sin.

14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
(Hebrews 9:14, ESV)

But to subjectively experience this cleansing, we must first acknowledge what our conscience tells us concerning our sin, respond with an attitude of repentance, and by faith trust in the cleansing blood of Christ. Romans 4:8 tells us that our sin will never be counted against us. We have been freed from a guilty conscience, enabling us to engage our lives in service to God.[5]

At this point it is profitable to discuss another theological term called expiation that you may not hear very often. This term may sometimes be confused with propitiation; however it has a different meaning. Propitiation, if you recall, refers to the work of Christ in absorbing God’s wrath as our substitute. Expiation, on the other hand, refers to the removal or putting away of our sin through Christ. Both of these acts accompany each other in the work of Christ, as symbolized through the two goats on the Day of Atonement. The first goat being killed and its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat represents the propitiation through Christ’s work. The second goat, through symbolically removing our sin, represented the work of expiation through Christ.[6]Both propitiation and expiation are terms that are vital in our understanding of Christ’s sacrificial work.

It is particularly important to reflect on the work of Christ and understand the concept of expiation, realizing that our sins have been completely removed, understanding we have been freed from guilt, allowing us to effectively serve God. The work of Christ was final, everything was accomplished on our behalf and we need to build a deep appreciation for it in our everyday lives. That we would exclaim as Charles Spurgeon did in his sermon “Expiation”.

"May we put our hand upon the head of Christ Jesus; as we see him offered up upon the cross for guilty men, may we know that our sins are transferred to him, and may we be able to cry, in the ecstasy of faith, "Great God, I am clean; through Jesus' blood I am clean.""[7]

[1] Jerry Bridges, “The Gospel for Real Life” [NavPress, 2003], pg. 57-58.
[2] Ibid., 58
[3] Jerry Bridges, “The Gospel for Real Life” [NavPress, 2003], pg. 59.
[4] Ibid., 65-66
[5] Ibid., 66
[6] Ibid., 67
[7] Charles Spurgeon, “Expiation” [The Spurgeon Archive;]

Monday, December 08, 2008

Plagiarizing Sermons

17Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17, ESV)

It is becoming alarmingly prevalent for many pastors to get their sermons from sources over the Internet or popular books and materials. It is feasible today for a pastor to go to sources on the Internet and download a sermon to be preached from his pulpit on any given Sunday. No prayer or laboring over the Word of God, just click “download” and you have an instant sermon for the upcoming Sunday service. Worse yet, these sermons are being passed off as if it were their own work.

But the Bible gives clear direction concerning the obligation of those in pastoral leadership. And key to the role of the pastor-teacher is just that – to teach. And before the pastor has anything to give to the congregation, he must first be taught and receive instruction from Scripture. The only way to achieve this is for him to be challenged through laboring in God’s truth, pouring himself out over Scripture, allowing it to penetrate his heart and mind. The phrase “labor in preaching and teaching” means to literally work to the point of exhaustion. Should we expect anything less? It amazes me that in many leadership positions in the secular world, how many are willing to wear themselves out for material gain or fame and fortune. This includes those who aspire to be in political office. All this is to achieve and earthly “crown”. It should not be out of the ordinary to expect that someone in spiritual leadership in pastoral ministry should seek to labor with at least as much intensity for spiritual gain and a heavenly crown.

All elders are to be able to teach, but this passage of Scripture points to a particular group of elders who are particularly gifted and driven to preach and teach. The man who stands in the pulpit as the so-called senior pastor week after week, since he is the key teaching pastor, needs to be this type of man. If he shows no inclination to do so, he is unfit for this position. To take the lazy way out cheats himself out of the life changing experiencing of digging into God’s truth, and subsequently deprives his congregation of keen insights that would be normally gained by laboring in the Word of God.

I remember visiting one church close to us some time ago and discovering that the pastor got his whole sermon series from a popular author’s book – practically word for word! Needless to say, I never felt compelled to go back.

It is no wonder that the evangelical church is in such a mess today, when the pulpits are overrun with lazy shepherds who are unwilling to engage in the necessary work of expositional teaching and preaching of Scripture.

Tim Challies published an article entitled “Plagiarism in the Pulpit” a couple of years ago. Challies sites an article published by Suzanne Sataline in the Wall Street Journal discussing this issue. In the article she discusses how this issue has created quite a stir over ethics. Quite frankly, I find the issue of taking another’s work and using it as one’s own blatantly unethical, not to mention patently unbiblical. Apparently Sataline quotes from several Christians who are in favor of this practice. Perhaps it should not come as any surprise that Rick Warren is among those who are in favor of using other people’s sermons without giving credit for the source of the material.

Tim Challies reflected on a couple of reasons as to why this is taking place. One is the laziness on the part of the pastors who are looking for a way to avoid the arduous task of sermon preparation. This, I believe, is the primary cause of the problem. But Tim offers the other side of the coin, which is the pressure that congregations place on the pastor as a result of the on-going “spirit of pragmatism” that has become so prevalent today. Pastors have succumbed to the pressure to be witty and entertaining. The expectations of far too many congregations is that the pastor be some charismatic leader similar to what the secular culture looks for in corporate America. While endeavoring to meet the demands of the congregation in light of this expectation, many pastors simply do not have the time for adequate sermon preparation. I agree that there is certainly quite a bit of pressure from churches to fit this expectation, however, it is the pastor's duty to give the congregation what they actually need biblically, rather than what they want. Perhaps it is time for more pastors to put a stop to the whims of man-made expectations and follow their Scriptural mandate for pastoral ministry. If they cannot fulfill it there, perhaps it is time to move on elsewhere, where they can fulfill their role biblically. I feel that the pastor’s study of the Word of God should be central to what he does. I wholeheartedly agree with this quote from Tim’s article:

“The pastor must lead the way in studying the Word. This must be his primary occupation and must take precedence over other tasks, and even important tasks, such as pastoral counseling or providing leadership.”

I believe that one of the primary problems being faced in the church today is a crisis concerning the lack of recognition of the biblical role for the pastor-teacher. When you think of it, the pastoral leadership is to provide the biblical vision and direction for the ministry of the church. This direction must be gleaned from the careful study of Scripture. And if the leadership fails to provide this, then it should be no surprise that the congregation will fail to function in a biblical manner and its spiritual growth will be severely diminished.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Sad Story Concerning Holiday Shopping Greed

I just read this news story today. A Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death as frantic shoppers stormed through the front door, eager to grab some spectacular bargains. It is astounding that greed can be carried this far, that someone would loose their life over attempting to get a good deal on some merchandise. According to the news report, many of the approximately 2,000 shoppers standing in line arrived around 10:00 PM Thursday night! It is amazing what people are willing to do to satisfy their lust and greed for material possessions.

For a nation filled with people who are disgruntled over corporate greed and are disenchanted with the wealthy, claiming that they are only concerned with money and not the common man on "Main Street", it is amazing how many are so blind that they cannot recognize their own selfish greed. It is also interesting how they certainly like the merchandise produced by those so-called greedy corporations. Stories like this illustrate the attitude of ingratitude so prevalent today, especially at a time when we are to be reflecting on the things we should be thankful for. This type of greed is antithetical to an attitude of thankfulness.

Scripture so clearly points out the attitude of the world, especially concerning greed (covetousness).

29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,(Romans 1:29-30, ESV)

Scripture also provides plenty of warning to believers not to be caught up with worldliness, pointing out the harmful destructive effects of greed on their lives, particularly in relation to their faith.

6Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10, ESV)

Luke 12:15
Hebrews 13:5
Colossians 3:5-7

It is unfortunate that sadly, many professing believers have gotten caught up in worldly lust for more wealth.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Propitiation for Our Sins

One word that summarizes what Christ did by drinking the cup of wrath on our behalf is propitiation. It is unfortunate that this word is not used in many modern versions of the Bible, such as The New International Version, which uses “atoning sacrifice” in place of propitiation. Perhaps this is an attempt to avoid difficult and misunderstood terms. But propitiation is a good term because it succinctly describes the work that Christ did on our behalf, and believers would do well to familiarize themselves with it.

The usual definition given for this word includes “to appease” or to “placate”. However, this definition seems a bit deficient in sufficiently describing what Christ accomplished. The usual definition alludes to merely soothing or softening the expression of God’s wrath. Furthermore, it could be taken to mean making concessions to appease an aggressor with the implications of sacrificing principle, which is definitely not the case. [1]

The description of the turning aside of wrath by taking away sin also does not seem to satisfy the real meaning of propitiation. This definition describes a mere deflecting of God’s wrath. But God did much more than just deflect God’s wrath for us. [1] Jesus Christ, as our substitute, fully absorbed God’s wrath. God’s wrath was completely spent which was necessary to satisfy His justice.

Isaiah 53 foretold of this outpouring of God’s wrath.

“4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.”
(Isaiah 53:4-6, NASB)

But perhaps the best word that describes what Christ did is the term exhausted. God unleashed all the fury of His wrath against sin on His beloved son. Every ounce of its fury was laid on Jesus, completely exhausting it so that we would not experience any of that wrath. We could say that the cup of God’s wrath was turned upside down, completely emptying it. There is nothing left in that cup for those who have placed their faith in Christ. [1]

It was this knowledge of what He would have to endure that caused Jesus the agony He expressed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44) and why He cried out in agony on the cross “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).

But it was at the end of those grueling hours on the cross that Jesus cried out in victory, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The wrath of God was finally satisfied; there was nothing left that needed to be paid.

All of this is a display of the great love that God has for us.

“9In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10, ESV)

The work that Christ accomplished was not that of Jesus, being kind and gentle, needing to persuade the Father not to pour out His wrath on us. God purposely sent His own Son on a mission of grace and mercy. This fact of God’s love is clearly affirmed in such passages as John 3:16 and Romans 5:8. [2] God is not content with displaying His wrath, even though it is necessary as a result of the curse of the Law, but desires to display His love. John Piper explains in “The Passion of Jesus Christ”:

“But the love of God does not rest with the curse that hangs over all sinful humanity. He is not content to show wrath, no matter how holy it is. Therefore God sends His own Son to absorb His wrath and bear the curse for all who trust Him. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).” [3]

Scripture describes God’s justice, mercy, wrath and love being fully expressed in Christ’s sacrifice. This is what enables us to experience the “unsearchable riches of Christ”. [4]

“3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” (Ephesians 2:3-5, ESV)

Realizing what was accomplished through the sacrifice of Christ should produce in us an attitude of deep appreciation and humility. Our Savior endured suffering that we cannot completely fathom. He endured this grief willingly on our behalf, taking on God’s wrath so that we would not need to suffer it for ourselves. Reflecting on these facts is all part of experiencing the unsearchable riches we have in Christ.

1. Jerry Bridges, “The Gospel for Real Life” [NavPress, 2003], pg. 53-54.
2. Bridges, pg. 55
3. John Piper, “The Passion of Jesus Christ” [Crossway Books, 2004], pg. 21
4. Bridges, pg. 56.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Let’s Not Forget

20Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.21He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; (Daniel 2:20-21, ESV)

Well the election is over, and if you are like me, you probably cringe as you think of the next four years under an Obama presidency. Election night is over and the majority of people decided in favor of Barack Obama. While we can sit around in shock as a very liberal agenda is likely to be implemented over the next four years, we need to understand that God is ultimately in control. We need not fear that somehow things are out of control, for God Himself is ultimately in charge of allowing who He wants to rule over a nation.

While we may have been disappointed, we need to keep a Biblical perspective on the matter. While we may not agree with many of the ideas proposed by Barack Obama, he is still going to be our president. And we need to be respectful of his position, even if we disagree. We also need to be supportive of him where possible. Of course, I do not mean that we should just be agreeable with whatever he proposes. But there is a way to disagree, and at the same time show him respect. We still have the right to vote on issues, and we can voice our opinions and concerns to our elected representatives. And there will be future elections. Scripture is crystal clear concerning our obligation to governing authority.

1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1, ESV)

To “be subject” means to obey, to submit to someone’s control or authority. Ultimately, the authority of these leaders came from God. This does not mean that this is unconditional obedience to the point that we are to violate God’s Word. Scripture is clear on that as well (Acts 5:29).

We must also remember that God has ordained civil government to help keep order in society. This does not mean that God approves of all things that civil government does. But without any government rule, there would be utter chaos. Our obedience to civil authority also brings honor and glory to God. Open rebellion brings dishonor to Christ (1 Peter 2:13).

Scripture further teaches us that we are to pray for our leaders. This is what pleases God (1Timothy 2:1-3). We must not forget that God desires for all people to be saved (1Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter3:9). This does not mean that all men will ultimately be saved (will of decree), but rather it is His will of desire. Remember that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11) .

Also, remember that our citizenship is not of this world (Philippians 3:20).

So as we approach January 2009, let’s keep these things in mind as a new president takes office.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Be Informed Before You Vote

This is a crucial election and I think it is extremely important for voters to clearly understand the issues before they cast their vote. Here is a handy guide from the Ohio Christian Alliance to let you know what the candidates stand for. You can download and print the complete 2008 Voter Guide. Also, if you live in Ohio, go to, where you can enter your zip code and get a list of the candidates who will appear on your ballot along with their stand on key issues.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

John Piper on Martin Luther

Excerpt from Martin Luther: Lessons from His Life and Labor by John Piper.

Luther Discovers the Book

One of the great rediscoveries of the Reformation -especially of Martin Luther- was that the Word of God comes to us in a form of a Book. In other words Luther grasped this powerful fact: God preserves the experience of salvation and holiness from generation to generation by means of a Book of revelation, not a bishop in Rome, and not the ecstasies of Thomas Muenzer and the Zwickau prophets (see note 1). The Word of God comes to us in a Book. That rediscovery shaped Luther and the Reformation.

One of Luther's arch-opponents in the Roman Church, Sylvester Prierias, wrote in response to Luther's 95 theses: "He who does not accept the doctrine of the Church of Rome and pontiff of Rome as an infallible rule of faith, from which the Holy Scriptures, too, draw their strength and authority, is a heretic" (see note 2). In other words, the Church and the pope are the authoritative deposit of salvation and the Word of God; and the Book is derivative and secondary. "What is new in Luther," Heiko Oberman says, "is the notion of absolute obedience to the Scriptures against any authorities; be they popes or councils" (see note 3). In other words the saving, sanctifying, authoritative Word of God comes to us in a Book. The implications of this simple observation are tremendous.

In 1539, commenting on Psalm 119, Luther wrote, "In this psalm David always says that he will speak, think, talk, hear, read, day and night constantly—but about nothing else than God's Word and Commandments. For God wants to give you His Spirit only through the external Word" (see note 4). This phrase is extremely important. The "external Word" is the Book. And the saving, sanctifying, illuminating Spirit of God, he says, comes to us through this "external Word."

Luther calls it the "external Word" to emphasize that it is objective, fixed, outside ourselves, and therefore unchanging. It is a Book. Neither ecclesiastical hierarchy nor fanatical ecstasy can replace it or shape it. It is "external," like God. You can take or leave it. But you can't make it other than what it is. It is a book with fixed letters and words and sentences.

[You can read the complete article here at]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spreading the Wealth

This pretty much summarizes the Obama economic plan:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Yeah, This is a Bit Creepy!

I saw this over at Fox News. There was a YouTube video of children singing songs praising Obama as a contribution to his campaign. I just saw this last week, and interestingly enough, the original link was deleted from YouTube! The article is up at Fox Forum, but you can no longer view the video from that link. Not sure what happened to it. However, someone in the comments section provided a new link to the video.

Yes, this is creepy indeed!

Another video clip from FOX with Bill O’Reilly and commentary discussing this issue.

Here is another article discussing a stunt that was pulled by a Middle School teacher, who posted a YouTube video of his students chanting slogans for Barack Obama, and they were dressed in military fatigues! Fortunately, the teacher was suspended for his actions.

I don’t know about you, but this seemingly cult-like following of Obama is more than a little unsettling to say the least. It seems that people just want change for the sake of change, no matter what it is, but that mentality is dangerous. People better think carefully through the issues, because there is a lot at stake here. Obama's politics are radically left-wing.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Cup of Wrath

We have previously established from Scripture that God’s wrath over sin is expressed throughout the Bible. And since we are all guilty of sin, we were destined to receive that wrath as a result of God’s righteous judgment against sin in order for God to maintain justice.

We are now going to look at what Jesus accomplished for us to save us from the horror of God’s wrath. In the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:39 , Jesus prayed to the Father that if it would be His will that “this cup be taken from me” (NIV). Also in John 18:11, when Jesus commanded that Peter put away his sword, He emphatically underscored that it was God’s will that He was to drink “the cup the Father has given me”.

The cup that Jesus drank is usually associated with the crucifixion. This connection is assumed based on the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane that the Father would spare Him that painful horror and humiliation of dying on the cross. The cup is indeed connected with the crucifixion of Jesus and that assumption certainly is not wrong. But we need to consider what was in that cup.

Several portions of Scripture speak of God’s wrath. [1]

8For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams; It is well mixed, and He pours out of this; Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.
(Psalm 75:8, NASB)

15For thus the LORD, the God of Israel, says to me, "Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. (Jeremiah 25:15, NASB)

22Thus says your Lord, the LORD, even your God Who contends for His people, "Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling, The chalice of My anger; You will never drink it again. (Isaiah 51:22, NASB)

9Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (Revelation 14:9-10, NASB)

The cup of wrath spoken of in Scripture is a metaphorical expression of the judgment of God. It was this cup that we would have been required to drink as a result of our sinful rebellion. But Jesus drank from that cup in our place so that we would not have to. Jesus drank all of it as our substitute. [1]

When Jesus was crucified, darkness spread over the land for three hours. It was during this time that Jesus drank that cup of wrath for us. Matthew 27:46 records the cry of Jesus approaching the end of that grueling three hours; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Scripture does not reveal to us everything that took place during those hours. The physical suffering that Jesus endured during that time reveals just a glimpse of the anguish that Jesus actually suffered. His soul was in utter anguish as He had to endure being forsaken by His Father. Jesus became sin for us in order to secure our salvation. It was for our sake that God had to forsake His beloved Son.

The words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21 describe what took place on that day. Jesus was made sin for us as a judicial transaction on our behalf.

21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus bore each and every one of our sins (1 Peter 2:24), and He did it willingly. What an incredible display of God’s love, that He would offer up His own Son whom he dearly loved to bear the full brunt of His wrath that we rightfully deserved. It was Jesus who was sinless, and yet He was required to take upon Himself our iniquity (Isaiah 53:6). It is this unique love that should cause us to look upon what Christ did with wonder. We will soon be examining a little further what Christ accomplished in His sacrifice in a couple of posts. [2]

1. Jerry Bridges, “The Gospel for Real Life” [NavPress, 2003], pg. 47-48.
2. Bridges, pg. 51-53.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Finally Back Online

Our broadband and cable service are back up after being out for several days. We are fortunate since there are many who still have no power. Getting back to posting may be a little slow though. I have other things going on right now, including co-teaching a class on evangelism with one of the elders from our church. But I still should be resuming my series on the gospel this week.

There was quite a bit of damage inflicted on central Ohio as a result of last weekend’s wind storm. Power outages affected well over 1 million customers in nearly every county in Ohio. Damage was so widespread that Ohio was placed under a state of emergency. Here are some YouTube videos people have taken of the storm and the damage that it caused.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Absence From Posting

I know it has been awhile since I have posted here at Authentic Truth. I meant to continue with my series of posts on the gospel this last weekend, but we were hit with the remnants of hurricane Ike this Sunday which inflicted widespread damage in central Ohio and knocked out our power for several days. Our power has been restored, but I still do not have my broadband Internet service restored yet. I am posting this from another location, but I do not have time right now to post anything of any substance at the moment. Hopefully my Internet access will be restored this weekend and I will resume posting once again.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Justice of God

Before I further discuss what Jesus accomplished for us, I need to discuss God’s justice. I believe this is essential for us to understand man’s dilemma in regard to his sin. Too many people not only have a distorted view of God’s wrath, but they consequently have a warped view of God’s justice as well.

The Bible explicitly tells us that we will all face judgment before God (Hebrews 9:27). It generally goes without saying that the vast majority of us would want to receive mercy, rather than to receive the full brunt of God’s justice. But we are faced with a huge problem, since God’s justice will come with certainty, not allowing any room to accommodate any concessions. And we also must keep in mind that although God may delay His justice, it will indeed ultimately come to pass. [1]

6For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8; NASB)

We must also consider that God’s justice is inflexible. The very definition of justice means that “we get exactly what we deserve – nothing more, nothing less.” In human systems of justice, there tends to be tension between justice and mercy, where often one prevails over the other. But this tension does not exist with God; His justice will always prevail. And it is this justice that must prevail in order to keep His moral government from failing. [1]

Drawing from John Owen, Fred Zaspel describes the necessity of this justice.

‘"[V]indicatory justice is the very rectitude and perfection of the Deity. . . . For if such a law were not made necessarily, it might be possible that God should lose his natural right and dominion over his creatures, and thus he would not be God."(21) It would be impossible for God not to punish sin. Without it, justice would not be maintained. It would be a denial of his veracity to impose a law with threats against disobedience and not follow through.’ [2]

In order for God to maintain His justice, all sin must be punished without exception. God never exercises mercy at the expense of His justice. Unfortunately, there are those who believe that God forgives just for the sake of forgiveness. But this is completely contrary to what Scripture teaches. God must impute His justice without exception.

To summarize the main thrust of an illustration given by Jerry Bridges, let’s say that there is a man who is convicted of murder. There is no doubt that he is guilty and has been judged so through due process by the judicial system of that state, and this individual has been given a death sentence. But let’s say that the governor does not agree with the death penalty and grants a full pardon to this man. While the governor would have the authority to do so, what do you think the public reaction might be? It is likely that they would be outraged at this action of injustice. [1]

But when people think that God should relax His justice and simply pardon all of us for our sin, they are asking God to do the exact same thing in the aforementioned scenario. But God’s divine nature cannot do that. You see, this would require God to exalt one attribute, His mercy, at the expense of His justice.

So this is the dilemma of our human condition; if we are to experience forgiveness, God’s righteousness must be satisfied before we can receive salvation for our sins. Since no one has perfectly obeyed God’s law and we are all guilty of breaking God’s law (Romans 3:9-20; James 2:10), we are all under condemnation before God. It would seem that we are without any hope in this world.

But God in His mercy has provided the way of forgiveness of man’s sin through sending His Son, Jesus Christ to suffer and die in our place to satisfy His justice. In fact, this is the ultimate expression of His divine love. John Piper explains:

“The death of Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of divine love: "God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Yet the Bible also says that the aim of the death of Christ was "to demonstrate [God's] righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed" (Romans 3:25). Passing over sins creates a huge problem for the righteousness of God. It makes him look like a judge who lets criminals go free without punishment. In other words, the mercy of God puts the justice of God in jeopardy.

So to vindicate his justice he does the unthinkable - he puts his Son to death as the substitute penalty for our sins. The cross makes it plain to everyone that God does not sweep evil under the rug of the universe. He punishes it in Jesus for those who believe.” [4]

However, it is this expression of divine love that the world looks upon as foolishness. The world does not want to acknowledge that they have actually committed any sinful acts worthy of divine retribution, let alone acknowledge that these sinful acts necessitate the death of Christ, and that there is nothing that man can do to rectify their guilty standing before God apart from the work of Jesus Christ. But their denial of this reality will not in any way change the facts. As Fred Zaspel explains,

“If there is a God and if He is righteous, then all unrighteousness will one day be punished. Indeed the knowledge of this aspect of divine righteousness is innate in every man. Though they deny it, still they "recognize [epignontes] the righteous judgment [dikaioma] of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death" (Rom.1:32). No denial of the facts will alter their reality. Knowing it they hate it, and hating it they deny it, but only to become more culpable. It is one horrible prospect that awaits the sinner.” [3]

But the fact remains that the only remedy for the transgression of man’s sin is the finished work of Jesus Christ through His sacrifice. Only Jesus could satisfy God’s righteousness and justice. I will be discussing more on this subject soon.

1. Jerry Bridges, “The Gospel for Real Life” [NavPress, 2003], pg. 41-43

2. Quoting and commenting on John Owen; from Fred G. Zaspel, “Four Aspects of Divine Righteousness: God’s Justice in Dealing with Sinners”, [Reformation & Revival Journal, Volume 6, Number 4, Winter 1997]

3. Fred G. Zaspel, “Four Aspects of Divine Righteousness: God’s Justice in Dealing with Sinners”, [Reformation & Revival Journal, Volume 6, Number 4, Winter 1997]

4. John Piper, “The Goal of God’s Love May Not Be What You Think It Is”, Desiring God, October 14, 2000

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

T4G On The Definition of the Gospel

Here is a panel discussion from Together for the Gospel discussing the definition of the gospel and the dilemma of the inadequate clarity concerning the gospel within evangelicalism today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Objects of God's Wrath

“3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Ephesians 2:3, NASB)

One of the most difficult subjects to address in Scripture is the wrath of God. The mere mention of the wrath of God evokes thoughts of violent emotions that lead to destructive behavior associated with actions committed by sinful humans. It is understandable that we would be so reluctant to associate that kind of attitude with God. But the wrath of God is not the same as the intense passion that is normally associated with that emotion expressed through human beings. [1]

But perhaps the greatest reason is that we don’t see our sinful actions as something that deserves the kind of judgment conveyed in the expression of God’s wrath. While most people may readily admit that they are sinners, they simply don’t view their sin as being that serious. And most of those people, while recognizing that perhaps their sin may warrant divine correction, view the outpouring of God’s wrath far too severe. [1]

It is also uncomfortable for most to view their unsaved friends, relatives and neighbors as those deserving of the outpouring of God’s wrath.

But regardless of how we feel about the subject, it is impossible to legitimately avoid the subject of God’s wrath. It is addressed in both the Old and the New Testaments in terms of both temporal and eternal judgment. There are hundreds of references to God’s wrath in the Old Testament, so it is abundantly clear that God expresses His great displeasure over sin. But many wrongly claim that while that may be true in the Old Testament, in the New Testament things change. However, this is simply not true. There are plenty of references in the New Testament concerning God’s wrath. [1]

Romans 1:18 tells us that God’s wrath is exercised against ungodliness and unrighteousness by “men who suppress the truth in (or by) unrighteousness.” Romans 2:5 says that those who are unrepentant and persist in unrighteousness are storing up wrath for themselves which God will judge them for in the end. Verse 8 of Romans 2 also reiterates the fact of God’s wrath against those who resist the truth. God will also patiently endure the disobedience of the ungodly, making His power known by demonstrating His wrath according to Romans 9:22. Ephesians 5:5-6 makes known that we can be certain that those who practice immorality and covetousness will have no inheritance in the “kingdom of Christ and God “, and not to be deceived by those proclaiming “empty words”, because “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience”. The term “empty words” refers to speech which is devoid of truth, yet is boastful of some supposed faith, yet without bearing any fruit characteristic of that faith. And the book of Revelation is chock-full of references to God’s wrath as He pours out His final judgment on the ungodly. (For some examples see Revelation 6:16,17; 11:18; 14:19; 15:1)

But God is angry over sin because it is an assault on His majesty and authority. All sin, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, is rebellion against God. And this is why sin is such a serious matter. Sin is not merely a horizontal issue, just an offense against another human being. Yes, wrongful actions against another human being are certainly sinful, but the real reason that God is indignant over sin is because it is defiance against His divine authority. And God’s anger over sin is necessary for Him to maintain His moral authority and for this reason He must punish it. Those who are guilty of sin are subject to the final expression of God's wrath in hell (Matthew 18:9; Mark 9:47; Luke 12:5). These are not trivial points, and unfortunately, there seems to be precious little time spent discussing this in contemporary evangelicalism.

Those who receive the saving grace of Jesus Christ are justified by His blood and are saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10). Jesus had to suffer greatly for us in order to save us from that wrath, and this is important for the believer to understand. I will expand on this further in another post.

1. Jerry Bridges, “The Gospel for Real Life” [NavPress, 2003], pg. 49

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mark Driscoll Confronts the Worldly Gospel

Mark Driscoll confronts the worldly “gospel” being preached by men like Joel Osteen. Mark may have a tendency to make me wince with some of the things he says and does, particularly in his attempt to be “missional” where I feel he often goes a little too far, but he generally gets his doctrine right. Here he is spot-on in confronting the popular “feel good” gospel, essentially seeking happiness in the same way the world does.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Realizing the Riches of Christ

“8To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,” (Ephesians 3:8; NASB)

Probably one of the reasons that so many of us struggle with guilt and frustration in our lives, is that we truly do not grasp the riches of Christ available to us through the gospel. We all face various problems in life, but the chief problem, the one that underlies all others, is the dilemma of our sin. And by “sin”, I am referring to our sins that we commit against a holy God. And it is the awareness of this sin that brings about guilt, a sense of being alienated from God and an overwhelming sense of deserving punishment as a result of sin.

Paul recognized that God had appointed him to preach the gospel to the gentiles. Here the truth is described as the “unfathomable riches of Christ” or to use another term, “unsearchable riches of Christ” as is translated in some versions of the Bible such as the ESV and the NIV. The Greek word Anexichniastos that is translated unsearchable or unfathomable, means something “that cannot be searched out” or comprehended. This does not mean that we cannot learn about those riches in Christ, but it simply means that they are so great, and the truth is so infinite, that our minds cannot fully comprehend or understand all of it. Those riches in Christ are so great that they are almost unbelievable.

But it is those truths that are instrumental in providing comfort and the means to grow and strengthen us in our Christian walk.

It is tragic that in evangelicalism today, these deep truths are seldom mined from Scripture. Consequently, too many Christians are robbed from the benefits of knowing these rich truths. Many lead lives of doubt and insecurity, troubled by their failures and shortcomings, taunted by the sin that unfortunately creeps into their lives.

But what is the reason for this dilemma? Jerry Bridges in his book “The Gospel for Real Life” sites a couple of reasons for this. One is that we have a tendency to have a “truncated view of the gospel”. The gospel is merely viewed as the doorway to becoming a Christian, and then we just need to focus on discipleship. In other words, once we become a Christian, we can tend to view the gospel as something for unbelievers. It becomes viewed as something that we only share with others so that they can be saved.

The second reason is that many possess a “utilitarian view” of the gospel. This is where people merely seek to find out what benefits they can reap in their daily life. Either they are seeking “fire insurance”, leading a life of ease now and then the guarantee of eternal happiness after this life, or it is looking for solutions to the problems of everyday life and how to be successful. Bridges sites an advertisement in a church flyer that illustrates this. But I think many of us have run across the same thing. I know I have received flyers in the mail showcasing a church outlining this very philosophy. In fact, a number of years ago, I received one from a church just around the corner from us. It follows a similar list of key points that Jerry Bridges gives in his illustration. (Jerry Bridges, “The Gospel for Real Life” [NavPress, 2003], pg. 14-15)

Their website lists the highlights of their church:

· Uplifting messages featuring “down-to-earth” topics relating to your daily life.
· Enjoy uplifting music and creative, humorous drama.
· Casual dress – whatever you are comfortable with.

I no longer have the flyer from a few years ago, but I remember some of the sermon topics:

· How to make a name for yourself
· How to overcome anxiety and stress in a fast paced world
· How to master your money

And I distinctly remember the phrase, “messages that give you a lift, rather than a let down”.

It is this type of constant, steady “diet” of endless so-called practical topics that ultimately leads to a shallow understanding of the gospel’s implication to our lives. It is not that there are no benefits from some of these topics. Scripture certainly has something to say concerning such subjects as handling our money and about relationships. But limiting our teaching and preaching strictly to those matters deprive believers of knowing the “unfathomable riches of Christ” and I believe it robs God of His glory. And I also believe that it also leads to a general lack of discernment, resulting from a shallow understanding of doctrine, leaving people subject to being influenced by false teaching. After all, Ephesians 4:11-16 describes the general focus of the ministry of the church. Verses 13 & 14 tell us the reason that believers are to be equipped to carry out the ministry, which is to build up the body of Christ, bringing about the “unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God”, so that we are no longer children tossed about by various doctrines, promulgated by false teachers.

Unfortunately, few evangelicals really realize the incredible riches that we have in Christ. To borrow from Jerry Bridge’s story illustrating this, it is like receiving a $10,000,000 inheritance, going into the bank and asking the teller if you have enough money to cover $150 worth of groceries! (Jerry Bridges, “The Gospel for Real Life” [NavPress, 2003], pg. 15-16)

Only by diligently studying Scripture can we begin to realize just how incredible and precious those riches in Christ really are. And it is only then that we can begin to appreciate those rich truths concerning what Christ did for us.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Gospel in a Nutshell

With all the distortions in evangelicalism concerning the presentation of the Gospel, it is a wonder that anyone can even grasp exactly what the Gospel message is. As I survey the Christian landscape, it is increasingly difficult to find very many instances where the Gospel is clearly defined. And the ramifications of the lack of clarity can be devastating. I fear that there are far too many who supposedly embrace the Gospel, but in reality have no idea what it means to be saved. This is critical, because your eternal destiny rests on this. There are yet others who actually are saved, but they really do not know enough of the facts concerning the Gospel to clearly present it to someone else. And there are yet multitudes that know the basics, but possess a shallow understanding of the implications of the Gospel in their life. This is certain to hinder their growth and spiritual stability in their lives.

The Gospel is not about finding your purpose in life, becoming a better person or having your best life now. It is most certain that you will have purpose in your life, and there are certainly going to be positive changes as a result of embracing the Gospel. Those, of course, are good things, but they are not by definition the Gospel.

The very core of the Gospel is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15.

“1Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5, NASB)

Jesus came to earth as God in the flesh, lived a sinless life and was delivered into the hands of sinful men. He was mocked, beaten and crucified to bear the sins of man, died and was buried. He arose again on the third day to win victory over sin and death, reconciling us to God the Father, reigning triumphant over His enemies. While this is a brief summary of the Gospel, unpacking the meaning of Christ’s work on the cross is a treasure trove of truth that nourishes our soul and strengthens us.

At the very core of the Gospel, is the fact that Jesus came to die for our sins to pay the penalty that we deserved. We were completely separated from God, spiritually dead, indulging the desires of our flesh and were objects of His wrath (Ephesians 2:3). The work of Christ was to reconcile us to God (2 Corinthians 5:18). It was not to give us our best life now, or to merely provide us with purpose. Yet the Gospel that is often presented today is generally weak in emphasizing these crucial points. Repentance is downplayed or ignored altogether. It is sad that despite the crucial importance of these points, they are touched on very lightly or just ignored.

I believe this is so critical to the Christian life, and the lack of focus in much of evangelicalism concerning the clarity of the Gospel has for all essential purposes, reached a state of crisis. I am going to be writing several posts on the subject of the Gospel, both to be able to clearly present the Gospel and to convey a deeper understanding of its implications to our lives. Not sure how long I will spend on this, but it certainly will take quite a few posts.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Example

Yet another example of crazy pragmatism. This type of nonsense is one of the many reasons that the evangelical church is in such a mess today.

To put this in perspective, click here to watch "The Church Growth Movie".

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An Example of How Far Churches Will Take Their Pragmatism

This is a video clip from an actual church service where the so-called praise and worship band played the AC/DC song, “Hell’s Bells”, as an apparent attempt to be relevant to the “seekers”. The first minute or so is a clip from Eric Holmberg’s first documentary on rock music, “Hell’s Bells”, subtitled “The Dangers of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, which provides the lyrics of the song.

This illustrates just how far many of the seeker churches are willing to take their pragmatism, embracing the “end justifies the means” mentality, justifying any worldly method.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Greatest Hindrance to Hungering for God

If we are not careful, we can allow the abundance of the Lord’s provision to so fill us that we can begin losing focus of Him in our lives. It is easy for us to begin focusing on the blessings that we forget about God and our hunger and desire for Him begins to wane.

We always need to be mindful of the source of our blessing – God. It is unfortunate that the human heart can stray and begin focusing on the pleasure found in this world. We must always remind ourselves that anything that we possess only comes by God’s provision.

According to Scripture, we must focus on God’s word to keep our hearts tender and grateful to God, to remind us of the true source. If we fail to do this, we are prone to become proud and forget God, becoming self-sufficient thinking that it is merely our hard work that got us where we are at. The Lord warned Israel of this danger in Deuteronomy. (Deuteronomy 8:11-18)

Dan Phillips posted this sobering quote by John Piper.

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18–20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.”

(John Piper, A Hunger for God [Wheaton: Crossway, 1997], 14; from D. A. Carson, For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 1 [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1998], May 28 entry)

We must be diligent to guard our hearts, since it is easy for us to become subtly deceived.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

God's Role for Women

“3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:3-5, NASB)

The Bible has plenty to say about His ordained roles for both men and women. Unfortunately, our culture has pushed the Bible out of the public spotlight and has replaced its principles with humanistic philosophies of what it means to be a woman in today’s world. Unfortunately, the same philosophies have crept into the church as well.

It has become popular over the years for both men and women to hold full-time jobs, even after children are brought into the marriage. Children are placed in day care centers every day of the week and are essentially raised be someone else, while the mother goes off to her full-time career. By the time that she gets home in the evening, she has little time and energy left to devote much in the way of quality time with her children. The question remains as to who trains the children to know right from wrong and what it means to live a life that honors God. There are no sufficient replacements for the care that only a mother can provide. Unfortunately, the influence for women to pursue full-time careers is largely a result of the feminist movement. Many women were brainwashed into believing that motherhood was less desirable than a full-time career outside the home. It is interesting that in recent years, there seems to be a growing number of women, not necessarily Christians, who have moved away from that influence and have decided to become full-time mothers and housewives.

But above all, what does the Bible have to say about the matter? Just what is the God ordained role for the wife? Well, the Bible does have plenty to say about the subject. This past week, John MacArthur was teaching on this subject, and teaching the biblical principles for a godly wife. If you did not catch the radio broadcast, I would recommend downloading the podcast. No, it is probably not a popular topic, but it is something that needs to be taught more often. Unfortunately, few churches feel inclined to teach on this subject. Many undoubtedly are offended by such teaching, but it really does not matter; adherence to Scriptural teaching must remain paramount in the life of a Christian.

The Bible does not explicitly forbid women from performing any work outside the home and we need to be careful not to go further than what Scripture teaches, perhaps even formulating a legalistic rule that the Bible does not state. However, there are very strong biblical principles outlined in Scripture that should supply ample guidelines when considering whether the wife should seek employment outside the home. Furthermore, there are explicit commands as to the responsibilities of the wife. Now I understand that there are extenuating circumstances that sometimes arise, necessitating that the wife work outside the home on a full-time basis. But I believe these circumstances are the exception rather than the rule. Remember, we must always seek to line up our lives with Scripture and endeavor to live our lives as pleasing to the Lord, even when it is not convenient, or in opposition to what the world may think. For the believer, we should constantly be renewing our minds and purging our thinking from adopting and being carried away by the world’s philosophies (Romans 12:2). This of course, must be accomplished through Scripture.

So, just what does God expect as the role women should play? Let’s look at the book of Titus chapter 2. Paul, giving instruction to Titus in verse 1 says, “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine”. The term “fitting” means to be in accordance with, to conform in such a way as to stand out or to be conspicuous. We are to line up our lives with the truth of Scripture in such a way that it stands out to others, and that it is obvious that we live by a different standard than the world. Our lifestyles must provide a strong witness and testimony to the unbelieving world. To be effective in this, we must be sure that our lives differ from the world’s perspective, a way that is reflective of God’s Truth. The principles that Paul expounds in the verses following conform to biblical truth. The term “sound” means healthy and adherence to sound teaching certainly contributes to a healthy spiritual life.

Paul then gives instruction both for men and women. In verse 3, the older women are to be "reverent" or in other words "dignified". This means that they are to live honorable lives, exhibiting sensible judgment and are to be spiritually healthy. They are not to be known for engaging in gossip and are not to be addicted to wine, enabling them to be clear headed in their thinking. The term "older women" refers to those who were past child-bearing age. These are the women who have plenty of experience behind them, and have been well seasoned in the duties of being a godly wife and mother.

These older women were to be actively involved in teaching the younger women about those things that are pleasing to God. Their lives being well known to exhibit godliness, are an example for the younger women to follow. Their life long experiences of marriage and family leave them with the knowledge to pass along to the next generation. This is instruction so that the younger women can know how to love their husbands and children and how to live pure, sensible lives, being “workers at home” (Titus 2:5). These are qualities and obligations that are essential for all women, they are not optional. It should be obvious that the priority of the wife is to be maintaining her household and all of this instruction is meant to prepare the younger women to fulfill their God ordained role.

I know that the intention of this post is centered on the duties of wives, but I also want to point out that the responsibility of teaching and instruction of the younger men is conversely true for the older men. I think this is important and should be an integral part of the discipleship process of the local church. I often wonder if there is enough of this taking place in many of our churches today. I fear that all too often it is not.

But the primary point of the women’s responsibility is the term “workers at home”. The woman’s responsibility is to be focused on the matters surrounding keeping a godly household. This is to be the woman’s primary responsibility. Paul in 1 Timothy 5, gives instruction that the younger widowed women should marry, bear children and “keep house”. The Greek word translated “keep house” is “oikodespoteo”, and it means to rule or manage, as in the affairs of the family. She is not only to rear the children, but she is also in charge of the administration of the home. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes this type of woman.

The women of this day were just as subject to the worldly notions of feminism. The onslaught of feminist ideas was prevalent then nearly as much as it is today. It is nothing new and the contemporary feminism today is nothing but the same old lies that were perpetrated in the ancient world. It is unfortunate that many women, sometimes even within the church, have been deceived into believing the lies of feminism.

So I believe one of the primary question that need to be answered in reference to women working outside the home is whether or not they are still able to fulfill their obligations in the home. Quite frankly, I am not sure how any woman can maintain a full-time career and still have the time to sufficiently take care of her family and keep order in the home. This is particularly true when there are young children in the home. There simply cannot be enough time available to handle both. And someone needs to be around to take care of the younger children. Children simply cannot rear themselves. Who is there to instill godly principles in their lives?

It is no accident that the youth in our country are in trouble. We are reaching a crisis where youth are committing heinous crimes at younger ages. I am certain that everyone is familiar with the term latch-key children. These are the children that are left to themselves once they get home from school until mom and dad arrive home from work. The question remains, what are these kids doing in the meantime? Are they entertaining themselves with television programs and video games containing objectionable content? Should we then be surprised that children are being negatively influenced by these things? It is becoming commonplace for children to engage in violence that was nearly unheard of two or three decades ago. Just observe how many school shootings that we have witnessed over the last few years. General violence in schools has increased dramatically. This situation did not occur overnight, but the seeds of the problem were planted long ago and the current dilemma was cultivated over time.

Without the godly influence of a Christian mother who endeavors to instill biblical values in the lives of her children, what is going to happen to those children as they grow up? Will they succumb to the worldly philosophies and pattern their lives after the world? I really fear for many of the Christian youth. I am finding that many are adopting the ways of the world rather than seeking to line their lives up with Scripture.

So ultimately the real question is whether employment outside the home will severely prevent or hinder the wife’s obligation within the home. The home must be the top priority. I believe there is a dilemma facing the church today. If our lives begin to look more and more like the world, then what testimony do we have before the lost? We desperately need for our lives to speak to the world through a lifestyle that reflects a biblical world view, and we need to openly and honestly approach Scripture with the intent to allow it to penetrate our hearts and change us.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wider-Mercy Salvation?

This grieved me when I first read about this a long while ago, but to actually hear Dr. Graham say these words is even more grievous.

Here is another video that has this clip in it as well about 3:50 minutes through it. This one shows a little bit of Billy Graham’s earlier years in his ministry. He certainly started out much differently.

Another example of his erroneous philosophy.

This is what happens when we begin to allow the truth to slip and go to great lengths not to offend anyone. Yes, we should not do anything to deliberately be offensive, but we need to remember that the gospel by its very nature is an offense to the lost (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). We are further obligated to give people the truth about their lost condition, preach the Gospel to them as the remedy for their sin, and warn of the eternal consequences if they reject it. It was Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians 9:16 who wrote "woe is me if I do not preach the gospel". It is tragic that Billy Graham has veered so far off track. Unfortunately, this kind of teaching bears dire consequences for those who hear this and think there is an alternative way of salvation.

Listen below as John MacArthur confronts this “wider-mercy” salvation.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Peril of Turning Away

“ 1Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits. 4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:1-6; NASB)

The exhortation here is that the Hebrews embrace saving faith in Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Many were sitting just at the brink of saving faith, but were not taking the next step and embracing Jesus as Savior. In fact, they were slipping back into the Old Testament teaching, rather than moving “on to maturity”, that is, salvation through Jesus as Savior. The Old Testament teaching was only meant to lay the foundation for faith in Jesus as the Messiah. The Old Testament teaching could be revisited if it was used to help them move on to faith in Christ (“if God Permits”), but it is only God who can enable that faith to take place (John 6:44-65).

It has been proposed by some that this passage indicates that one can lose their salvation, which is how they interpret verse 6. However, if that is the case, then it is also true that person can never come back to the Lord (“it is impossible to renew them again to repentance”, v. 6). Yet those who take the position that once someone is saved that they can fall into sin and lose their salvation, constantly plead with people to repent. So it should appear obvious that this passage does not mean that. Furthermore, there are numerous passages elsewhere in Scripture that speak of the believer’s security in Christ (Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:38, 39; John 10:27-29).

But the real intent of this passage is not directed at Christians who fall into grievous sin, but rather the peril of rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior. In fact, the overall focus in Hebrews is on illustrating that Jesus was the appointed Savior prophesied and spoken of throughout the Old Testament.

The term “maturity” also translated “perfection” in some translations (KJV & NKJV), is the Greek word “teleiotes”, and means moral and spiritual perfection, an accomplishment achieved. Here it is referring to the accomplishment that Christ achieved through the cross to declare us righteous through His finished work. In other words it is speaking of salvation. It is not referring to spiritual growth in Christian character and sanctification in daily living, though that should become apparent once someone comes to genuine faith in Christ.

The problem with many of the Hebrews addressed here is that they were in danger of ultimately turning from the truth of God’s saving grace, drifting back into Old Testament teaching. Apparently they seemed like they got off to a good start, giving the appearance that they were true believers. This is similar to the description of those in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:18-23. Verse 20 describes the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, but falls away once trouble ensues. In a similar fashion, many of the Hebrews had wonderful spiritual encounters, but soon fell away. Just like the seed planted on rock never is able to take root, so these people were never were able to become grounded in the faith. They were “enlightened”, receiving instruction in biblical truth and were able to at least understand on an intellectual basis. They had a “taste” of the “heavenly gift”, but seem to not have feasted on and digested it. They were in some sense “partakers” or “shared” (NIV& ESV) in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, even witnessing His mighty work, or even falling under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but fell short of experiencing salvation. Even the presence of signs and mighty works does no necessarily mean that those involved are genuine believers, as Jesus warned in Matthew 7.

Those who willfully turn from the knowledge of the truth of the gospel, defecting from the faith are apostates and no longer have a sacrifice that provides a covering for their sins. There is no sacrifice for sin apart from Jesus Christ. To disregard the finality and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice is to hold Jesus in contempt and is “insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29), essentially committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31, 32).

Once the gospel is refused, a hardening of the heart sets in and once that hardening takes place, the heart is no longer receptive to the truth. Earlier in Hebrews, they were exhorted not to harden their hearts as their ancestors did in the book of Numbers (Chapters 13-14). There, the children of Israel witnessed the mighty work of God, but allowed unbelief to settle in and slipped into grumbling and complaining, resulting in their turning away from God (Hebrews 3:7-19).

The rejection of God’s offer of grace after receiving the full instruction and enlightenment of the truth is a sin that inhibits their restoration to a place of forgiveness. Repentance becomes impossible for them (Hebrews 6:6; 10:26). In this state, “they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” placing themselves in the same position as those who crucified Christ, treating Him as a mere man that deserved to be crucified.

The more that I read of the final necessity of Christ’ s sacrifice and the strong exhortation of the Jews to receive Jesus as Savior, the more grieved I am over the blunder of men like John Hagee who wrongly teach that the Jews are covered under the Old Testament Covenant. How can anyone misunderstand this? Have they not read Hebrews and Romans? I just cannot fathom how anyone could teach that the Jews can be saved any other way except through Jesus Christ.

But I believe that there is a strong exhortation here, not just for the Jews, but for anyone who comes to the brink of saving faith, but turns and essentially dismisses the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is vital to respond in faith to the Gospel. To reject the Gospel is to create a hardening of the heart and places that individual in the peril of sealing their fate for eternity.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Attempting to Make Sense of the Different "Streams" of the Emerging Church

While there are those in the general Emerging Church movement who may quip “’Emergent’ does not speak for us” or “’Emergent’ is not our denomination”, many of those same people also use and refer to books and material promoted by the organization referred to as “Emergent”. I have been amazed at some who take offense at being associated with Brian McLaren, but they are also the same ones who will often adopt many of his philosophies and quote from his books. Emergent (also known as Emergent Village) is the official liberal wing of the broader Emerging Church Movement. Emergent also seeks to be a profound influence in the broader Emerging Church.

But the movement can be broken down a bit more than just Emerging and Emergent. Mark Driscoll in an article entitled A Pastoral Perspective on the Emerging Church, explains the differences between three basic streams of the Emerging Church Movement as identified by Dr. Ed Stetzer. This is an interesting article that describes the various segments of the Emerging Church movement. But even in the category of the more conservative “Relevants”, I have great concern, especially since Rob Bell and Donald Miller tend to be their prominent spokesmen. Rob Bell is not in the least bit truly conservative theologically as many people unfortunately consider him to be. And Donald Miller tends to be doctrinally ambiguous, particularly in his book “Blue Like Jazz”. To me it is very telling when Brian McLaren can provide his glowing endorsement on the back of Miller’s book. Furthermore, there is information in Miller’s book pointing people to Emergent Village, including the URL to the website. Neither individual inspires any enthusiasm on my part. In fact, I feel the need to warn others about their teaching, especially in the case of Rob Bell. There is, however, a relatively small group within the Relevants who do embrace Reformed Theology and are more inclined to gain theological insight from such men as John Piper and Tim Keller. This group is generally theologically conservative, but is, in my estimation, very small. This is where Mark Driscoll would fit in. However, I am apprehensive to heartily recommend Driscoll's ministry given his propensity to utilize slang terms and phrases that are essentially unsuitable for Christians to use in general speech, let alone from the pulpit. Unfortunately, this has earned him the notoriety of being known as "Mark the cussing pastor", a term that Donald Miller refers to him as in his book "Blue Like Jazz". It is not his theology that I have the problem with, it is the way he presents himself in an apparent effort to be hip and cool to appeal to the younger generation.

While I recognize that there are certainly those who may hold to orthodox Christian beliefs within the broader Emerging Church, I often wonder what they expect to truly accomplish by being identified as “Emerging”, especially when their views are often in direct variance with the theological views of many of their colleagues. The very fact that they uphold the notion that there are indeed absolute truths, causes them to be ostracized by many if not the majority in the Emerging Church movement.

At the end of Mark’s article, he summarizes where he sees the movement heading.

“In the end, I believe the conversation will result in multiple communities arriving at different conclusions and breaking off to have their own conversations, with their own Bible translations, leaders, books, magazines, websites, blogs, conferences, and model churches. That is already happening as new networks are forming and new church planting networks are establishing new churches with varying answers to the missiological questions. Over time, this may result in new denominations because inevitably systems must be put in place to serve a movement and somehow an umpire must be put in place to make decisions about what is and what is not acceptable doctrine and practice.

The only hope is a return to the true gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. The gospel must be unleashed in the world through the Church for the transforming salvation of sinners and their cultures. If the gospel is lost, as I fear it already has been among some Revisionists, then tomorrow will be a dark day for the truth about Jesus.”

In my opinion, the Emerging Church is destined to end up as a terrible train wreck. And if the rest of the evangelical church follows their lead, it will be headed down the same collision course with disaster.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

John Hagee’s Warped Teaching

People need to be warned concerning the abhorrent teaching of John Hagee. One particular error that he has become notorious for is what is called the “Two Covenant Theory”, teaching that the Jews are covered under the Old Testament covenant and really do not need to be evangelized. Despite the fact that he has often attempted to deny that this is what he teaches, an examination of his teaching proves otherwise. I am not going to go into detail his various statements over the years right now, but just listen to his advertisement for his book “In Defense of Israel” in this video clip below.

But Scripture tells a different story concerning Christ and salvation. The book of Hebrews was written to exhort the Hebrews to embrace saving faith through Jesus Christ. The whole book is a plea to embrace Jesus as their Savior.

Unfortunately, it appears that those who espouse this dual covenant theory believe that the passages in Romans 10 & 11 mean that there is a remnant in Israel saved by God’s election and relation to Abraham, and not by the cross of Christ. Essentially, men like Hagee believe that Jesus came to provide a covenant of grace for the Gentiles, but the Jews are covered by a separate covenant of election.

But that is not at all what those passages mean. This philosophy is an attack on the very Gospel that was preached by Jesus and the apostle Paul. In fact, Paul had “great sorrow and unceasing grief” because of the rejection of Jesus by his Jewish brethren (Romans 9:1-8). Paul’s desire and prayer was for their salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 10:1-4).

Furthermore, the salvation spoken of in Romans 11 is yet future as God deals with His people at the approaching of the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is when God will remove the blindness of their hearts so that they will receive Jesus as their messiah. Incidentally, this does not mean that every single individual will be saved simply because they are Jews. Salvation is dependent on the individual placing their trust in Christ, and it is clear in Scripture that just as there are Gentiles who will not be saved due to their unbelief, so there will also be Jews who will not be saved because of their unbelief as well. The phrase “and so all Israel will be saved” in verse 26 is in no way meant to imply that all Jews are saved simply because of their ethnic background.

It is amazing just how many people fall prey to false teaching. Just because someone may sound authoritative and has become popular, does not mean that they are correctly teaching from Scripture. All teaching must be scrutinized by the text of Scripture, and false teaching should be exposed as such.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sloppy Handling of Scripture

I saw this video clip over at Big Orange Truck. This is typical of far too many in the KJVOnly crowd and an example of why we need more men who will carefully and accurately teach the Word of God.

(Warning:Crude Language)