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]