Archive for the ‘Exposition’ Category

Picking Up The Slack

August 31, 2007

Okay! You saw me give David a chance didn’t you? ‘Be the hero,’ I said; ‘save us from banality,’ I said. Alas, it is left to me to change my way and way of the blog…

In my devotions in the AM, when I get to work, I often use this little gem from Crossway Bibles, publishers of the ESV: “Daily Light on the Daily Path.” It is often edifying and gets me to open my Bible, which is a good thing.

The format is interesting. It takes various biblical texts and strings them together. Often this is called “stringing pearls.” It has the advantage of pointing you various texts in the Bible that may cover the same theme. It has the disadvantage of pulling texts out of context. But, again, it makes one go to the Bible and that is a good thing – – right?

The reason I write all of that is to point you to one passage in today’s ‘Light.’ Here is one section of the Bible that publishers quoted:

Is 43:25-26 “I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
26Put me in remembrance; let us argue together;

Lovely verses but what is the context? (more…)


Working Through Stuff

August 19, 2007

A week ago we had the right reverend James B. Jordan in the pulpit of Providence Community Church.   It is normal for us to have a time of discussion about the sermon after the worship service and Reverend Jordan led that discussion as well.  We were having audio problems that day and neither the sermon or his discussion are available at this time.  I would like to get some discussion on one thing Rev. Jordan said though so here it is…

His sermon was on the use of symbolism in the bible and how we, as western Christians, have difficulty thinking in those categories.  It was quite interesting and gave me much to think about.  The discussion that followed challenged my thinking about one particular event in the Genesis creation/fall account.

What was the first sin in the garden?  I know that Adam represented all of mankind with his sin but in what way did Eve sin before Adam?  In particular was Eve sinning when she said, ” “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 

Here was Rev. Jordan’s take on the issue:  Eve learned the commandment from Adam.  She was his helper and worked with Adam to flesh out obedience to the command of God.  The phrase “nor shall you touch it” was simply applied theology (my term not Rev. Jordan’s).  She issued a good commentary on the law and it was not an adding to the Word of God.

I had never heard that interpretation before though I have since found that Calvin held to something not much different: 

“When she says, God has forbidden them to eat or to touch, some suppose the second word to be added for the purpose of charging God with too great severity, because he prohibited them even from the touch. But I rather understand that she hitherto remained in obedience, and expressed her pious disposition by anxiously observing the precept of God; only, in proclaiming the punishment, she begins to give ways by inserting the adverb “perhaps,” when God has certainly pronounced, “Ye shall die the death.””

And Matthew Henry as well:

“It was an instance of her resolution that she adhered to the command, and faithfully repeated it, as of unquestionable certainty: “God hath said, I am confident he hath said it, You shall not eat of the fruit of this tree;” and that which she adds, Neither shall you touch it, seems to have been with a good intention, not (as some think) tacitly to reflect upon the command as too strict (Touch not, taste not and handle not), but to make a fence about it: “We must not eat, therefore we will not touch. It is forbidden in the highest degree, and the authority of the prohibition is sacred to us.””

I am just curious about two things:  1)  Am I the only one who was taught that Eve sinned in “adding to the Word of God?”  2)  Is there a reformed teacher that holds that Eve sinned in this area?

This is not a like discovering election for the first time or anything; but I am wondering what else I don’t know…

al sends

A Family Prayer PT 2

August 12, 2007

In my first installment on the Lord’s prayer I proposed that this prayer of our Lord is a prayer for a people and not bare individuals.  That while Jesus is showing individuals how to pray those individuals are never alone…  Now let’s turn our attention to the Father who hears our prayers.

I.  He is no distant God. Now remember this is Jesus pointing us to communicate with His Father in the same manner He does. But, some may wonder at this…  Jesus is wholly different than us, they might say. He is a Son in a manner that I will never be. True enough, but what a glorious thing to not be a natural child of the King, to not share in His essence, yet to be plucked out while still in our sin and to be called His child.

    In the past we have had families with adopted children in our church and we have members now with adopted children. It is a marvelous thing to realize that when it comes to affection, love, possession, position, title, birthdays, beach parties, bed time prayers, tickle-fests, or kisses on the cheek there is no difference between a daughter born into the family and one brought in by way of adoption. We may not be His children in the same way Jesus is but after our adoption we are in every way a son or daughter of the King. That is why Paul could call us to look upon God with great affection in

Gal 4:6-7 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba , Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

You may have heard that that word Abba is used by little children for daddy but that is not entirely true. While it is used by children it is also used by adults and it is really a term of endearment or affection. Jesus used this same term in the Garden of Gethsemane:

Mark 14:35-36 35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba , Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

In this prayer, Jesus is calling us to relate to His Father the way He relates to Him. To dearly love Him.  There are a few things to remember while you are addressing Him as Father.

a. First of all, He is our Savior. When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and petition for the release of the people Israel he put it this way:

Ex 4:21-23 21 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD:”Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.”‘”

His first and primary purpose in having children is to lead them in an exodus. (more…)

A Family Prayer – Part I

July 15, 2007

Matthew 6:9-13

There are two reasons we pray this text back to God every Sunday. First, we believe that it is hard to go wrong with offering up to God a promise in a prayer. And this prayer is a promise. Matt 6:8-9 8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray…  God knows what we need before we ask and earlier Jesus said our Father knows and will answer us out of that secret place of His.

Secondly, it is good to establish a pattern for prayer. To pray this prayer regularly establishes a groove in our souls that all future prayer may follow. There are many paths in the woods. Some are cut out with tools others are there by way of simple use. The deer follow the same steps to the water every day and each day they do so the path is established until eventually the way to the water is easy and without obstacle. We desire our prayers to follow a well worn path and for that path to be without obstacle.

With that in mind let me point out two features of this prayer I want you to carry with you as we go through this series. First of all this is a family prayer and secondly it is the Father of the family who answers our prayers.

Family – When Jesus is teaching us to pray He is precise in His language. Though Jesus had told His disciples that they should pray without hypocrisy, locking themselves away if necessary, the communal aspect of their life is never to be forgotten. He is not simply my Father, though He is my Father. He is our Father.


Not My Father

June 21, 2007

I am preparing a series on the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and will be preaching through this text beginning the second Sunday in July (DV).  It should take me four weeks, though I could easily take longer.

Before I get to what I want to talk about,  do this… First read the text in Matthew 6 and the other account of Jesus giving these instructions in Luke 11.  After that, go back into the Old Testament and see how often people addressed the Lord with such familiarity.  Note how many times God is referred to as Father let alone My or Our Father.   I will wait…  ‘taint many.

In the opening address I am struck by the first two words of our Lord’s prayer.  When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray He does not say to them, “Pray in this manner:  My Father…”  Rather He says ‘hemon Pater’ (transliterated Greek)  or “Our Father…”  

I wrote a while ago that the Bible was not written to you as a personal lover letter from Jesus to you.  I wrote that it was written for a covenant people.  Here, Jesus brings this point home in telling individuals to address His Father with the plural pronoun ‘our.’ 

Jesus gave a good bit of advice on prayer.  We are to pray persistently (Luke 11:5ff; 18:1-8).  We should pray for our enemies (Matt 5:44). And He tells us to pray with faith etc.  But here in this little section of Scripture (at least in the parallel account in Luke 11) Jesus is answering a specific petition:  “Lord teach us to pray…” 

When we offer up prayers we are not to be like the guys shouting bible versus at people in their four-wheeled, air-conditioned cocoons.  Rather Jesus tells us that we should find a nice quiet closet somewhere (vs 6) to offer our prayers.  Yet in that quiet place we don’t narrow our prayers to fit the walls.  We pray for the body.  Jesus points us to the congregation.  Our Father, give Us, Our bread, Our debts, Our debtors, lead Us not into temptation, deliver Us.  Sure, you are part of OUR and US but you do not make up the total. 

Okay, some of you are thinking, “But Al, Jesus said it would be good to leave 99 to find the one and that there in joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.”  Sure, but the point of that parable was not to show how special You are, rather it shows that the community of the saved is larger than you think.  And that Jesus came to die for sinners who are outside the Holiness Club.  You are part of something larger.  You are part of the people of God. 

We pray the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday at Providence and in so doing we pray not just for ourselves but for the guy and gal sitting next to us.  We should really want their tables set with food, their debts forgiven; then we should be actively forgiving them, and praying that God would deliver us all from temptation and the Devil!  May God grant us grace to see the body as we pray to Him…

Matt 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name. 
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven. 
11 Give us this day our daily bread. 
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors. 
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Al sends 

PS… Next I am going to talk about heaven and I will leave you with this quote from C.S. Lewis:

All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it. C S Lewis – The Problem of Pain

5 Points that don’t make you a Christian…

May 21, 2007

Not those 5 points (though they, as phrases, don’t make you a Christian either) these 5 points:

1. The inerrancy of the autographs (or original writings) of scripture.
2. The virgin birth and deity of Christ.
3. The substitutionary view of the atonement.
4. The bodily resurrection of Christ.
5. The imminent return of Christ.

Why the fuss, you ask? These are all important points and I think excellent bible truth (though that last one will have some ‘splainin to do). The point is something that Bryan over at HotAir posted today. Click this pretty blue sentence to read it all.

It seems that the New York Times has run a piece on the New Evangelical Leadership in this country. I did not vote for them but they are Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. I think there is going to be the theological equivalent of rock-paper-scissors to determine who is going to replace Jerry Falwell as the voice of Evangelicalism. The Times will let us know the winner I am sure, them or Larry King.

But, dear reader, that is not why I draw your attention to Bryan’s post. Rather, I want you to see where he ends up:

He sets up the comment I care about (is the suspense killing you?) by quoting from an interview with NPR’s Juan Williams:

JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: Picking up on this business about the disagreements between the fundamentalists and the Pentecostals, I mean, this struck me as news because when journalists write about it, we go to people like Robertson and Falwell to represent the evangelicals. And that’s the way it comes across, so it strikes me that we’re ill informed or you’re wrong. (Chuckles.) And secondly, that you’re not using this God-given influence you spoke of, because your influence is not showing up in the American media in terms of supplanting people who you would tell us are bogus.

MR. WARREN: Well, I tell you, that’s the reason I accepted this meeting, because I’m just tired of having other people represent me and represent the hundreds of thousands of churches where the pastors I’ve trained would nowhere, no way, relate to some of the supposed spokesmen of a previous generation.
Now the word “fundamentalist” actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity, and when I say there are very few fundamentalists, I mean in the sense that they are all actually called fundamentalist churches, and those would be quite small. There are no large ones. (my (ed. Bryan’s) emphasis)

Bryan then tells us what the five fundamentals are and says this: drum rooooolllllll: (more…)

Faith Through Love

April 17, 2007

I am studying in preparation for my sermon next Sunday… The title will be something like: You are Lovely and Your Father Dresses You Funny… My primary text is 1 John 4. John’s presentation of Love as the defining characteristic of a believer (for God is Love) is bracketed by a belief that Jesus came in the flesh (verses 1-3 of chapter 4) and that Jesus is the Christ in the first two verses of chapter 5. Our love for one another is tied to our faith.

Does it work the other way? Is our faith tied to our love? In other words does our faith, justifying faith, posses love? Here are a couple of quotes by two reformed guys looking at Galatians 5:6:“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love ”

Guess the two luminaries and cast your votes in the meta (No fair Googling)

Quote 1

We, again, refuse to admit that, in any case, faith can be separated from the Spirit of regeneration; but when the question comes to be in what manner we are justified, we then set aside all works.

With respect to the present passage, Paul enters into no dispute whether love cooperates with faith in justification; but, in order to avoid the appearance of representing Christians as idle and as resembling blocks of wood, he points out what are the true exercises of believers. When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle.

Quote 2:

Faith has a concern in justification and salvation, not by way of causal influence, but as it is that grace which receives the righteousness of Christ, through which we are saved, and kept by the power of God unto salvation; yet not any sort of faith, but that which is operative, is attended with good works; and which works itself by love to God, to Christ, to his people, ways, worship, truths, and ordinances.

Which quote would you deem more helpful? Would either of these guys espouse a faith that is void of love? Does that fit with Scripture?

al sends


March 21, 2007

One of the things I enjoy the most about family Bible study is how fresh the text appears to me as I talk it over with my wife and children. If you do not practice this discipline let me urge you to gather your family together regularly to read, study, pray and sing together.

We try to do family worship/Bible reading around the dinner table. The last few nights we have been reading 1 Corinthians. In Chapters 2 and 3 Paul distinguishes between the wisdom of the world, which leads to division, and the wisdom of God, which is the mind of Christ. There two ideas are juxtaposed again and again in a very short space…

1 Cor 2:1 “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.”
1 Cor 2:6 “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.”
1 Cor 2:14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

And others…

Keeping the wisdom of the world separated from the wisdom of God can be confusing for 10 to 15 year olds (and their father). As we talked about it though, one thing struck me afresh: Christ crucified!

We can spend a lifetime on 1 Cor 2:2 ”For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” The rest of Corinthians is rooted in this wonderful truth.

How do you deal with divisive bothers in the Church? Jesus Christ crucified. Want to deal a mortal blow to your pride (4:6-7)? Jesus Christ crucified. Do you suffer? Jesus Christ crucified. Sexual immorality? Jesus Christ crucified. Church discipline issues? Start with the crucifixion. Lord’s Supper? Immodesty? Drunkenness? Power grabbing? The mind of Christ in all these situations is Him crucified.

We are gnostic at heart and the crucifixion was so, so, so time bound. It happened already, get over it! Wisdom to our carnal minds means getting beyond the basics of “Jesus died that I might live,” to the really deep things of God. It must be more difficult than that, right? Come on! I learned that on day one!

But to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified? That is wisdom. That is meat!

al sends

The Gospel and Lordship

March 14, 2007

Romans 14:9 is a profound statement by the Apostle Paul. “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” Paul acknowledges something taught elsewhere in the New Testament: Jesus died and rose again so that He would be given the highest place of Lordship and so that He would reign as the One to whom all things – even you and me – have been given as an inheritance. Christ died, Christ rose, and Christ lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living: this is a concise statement of the work of Jesus Christ, the gospel, and the effect of the gospel on our lives.

All three of these phases — His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension — are related to His Lordship in the New Testament.

So, for example, in Acts 2:36 we hear the Apostle Peter proclaim that what God the Father did through the crucifixion of Jesus. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Was Jesus both Lord and Christ before His suffering and death? Yes, but it was (more…)