Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement

Justin Holcomb at the Resurgence has a good post on Yom Kippur, otherwise known as the Day of Atonement being celebrated today by Jews around the world. Here's an excerpt that explains what happened on this day in OT times and how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this day:
The first goat was a propitiating sin offering. The high priest slaughtered this goat, which acted as a substitute for the sinners who deserved a violently bloody death for their many sins.

Then the high priest, acting as the representative and mediator between the sinful people and their holy God, would take the second goat and lay his hands on the animal while confessing the sins of the people. This goat, called the scapegoat, would then be sent away to die in the wilderness away from the sinners, symbolically expiating or removing the sins of the people by taking them away.

The sacrifices of the Day were designed to pay for both sin’s penalty and sin’s presence in Israel. The shedding of blood and the sending off of the scapegoat were meant to appease God's wrath against sin and to cleanse the nation, the priesthood, and even the sanctuary itself from the taint of sin (Lev 16:30).The Day of Atonement was a foreshadowing of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and our great High Priest who is able to sympathize with us in our weakness. These great images of the priest, slaughter, and scapegoat are all given by God to help us more fully comprehend Jesus’ bloody sacrifice for us on the cross.

Jesus’ fulfillment of the Day of Atonement is why we are forgiven for and cleansed from our sins. To preach anything else is to proclaim a “different gospel,” which is no gospel at all (Gal 1:6-7). Spurgeon drives this point home: “Many pretend to keep the atonement, and yet they tear the bowels out of it. They profess to believe in the gospel, but it is a gospel without the blood of the atonement; and a bloodless gospel is a lifeless gospel, a dead gospel, and a damning gospel”
This reminds me of the quote my professor said last semester: "Study the living tar out of the Pentateuch." How much more we can appreciate Jesus as we understand the sacrificial system that foreshadows Him.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Continual Rediscovery of the Gospel

Tim Keller:
"We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A-Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience, but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col. 1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom. 1:16-17). It is very common in the church to think as follows. “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Col. 1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you–it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32).

The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not 'used' the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, 'The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine. . . . Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.' The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not 'get' it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel–seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church."

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Precious Doctrines of Grace

I thought John Piper did a good job succinctly stating the Doctrines of Grace, as he re-affirms them with his church:

We believe that these 5 truths are biblical and therefore true. We believe that they magnify God’s precious grace and give unspeakable joy to sinners who have despaired of saving themselves.

Total Depravity

Our sinful corruption is so deep and so strong as to make us slaves of sin and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness. This inability to save ourselves from ourselves is total. We are utterly dependent on God’s grace to overcome our rebellion, give us eyes to see, and effectively draw us to the Savior.
We were dead in our trespasses. (Ephesians 2:5)

The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7-8)

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Unconditional Election

God’s election is an unconditional act of free grace that was given through his Son Jesus before the world began. By this act, God chose, before the foundation of the world, those who would be delivered from bondage to sin and brought to repentance and saving faith in Jesus.
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).

As many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)

"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:15-16)

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened. (Romans 11:7; cf. 9:11-12; John 6:37)

My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me. (Isaiah 43:10
Irresistable Grace

This means that the resistance that all human beings exert against God every day (Romans 3:10-12; Acts 7:51) is wonderfully overcome at the proper time by God’s saving grace for undeserving rebels whom he chooses freely to save.
Even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:5)

No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father. (John 6:65)

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 2:25)
Limited Atonement

The atonement of Christ is sufficient for all humans and effective for those who trust him. The full, saving effectiveness of the atonement that Jesus accomplished is limited to those for whom that saving effect was prepared. The availability of the total sufficiency of the atonement is for all people. Whosoever will—whoever believes—will be covered by the blood of Christ. And there is a divine design in the death of Christ to accomplish the promises of the new covenant for the chosen bride of Christ. Thus Christ died for all, but not for all in the same way.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16; cf. Revelation 22:17).

This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:20)

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)

I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:15)

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. . . . And for their sake I consecrate myself [that is, prepare to die], that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:9, 19)

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
Perseverance of the Saints

We believe that all who are justified will win the fight of faith. They will persevere in faith and never surrender to the enemy of their souls. This perseverance is the promise of the new covenant, obtained by the blood of Christ, and worked in us by God himself, yet not so as to diminish, but only to empower and encourage, our vigilance; so that we may say in the end, I have fought the good fight, but it was not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28)

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:12)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Breaking the Rules of Small Talk

Good post from Matt Perman:

Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, has a good post on making small talk more effective (and authentic) that makes the simple point: be yourself. But to do this, you have to ignore conventional wisdom’s first rule of small talk:
Small talk experts claim that when you first meet a person, you should avoid unpleasant, overly personal, and highly controversial issues.

Wrong! Don’t listen to these people! Nothing has contributed more to the development of boring chitchatters everywhere. The notion that everyone can be everything to everybody at all times is completely off the mark. Personally, I’d rather be interested in what someone was saying, even if I disagreed, than be catatonic any day.

There’s one guaranteed way to stand out in the professional world: Be yourself. I believe that vulnerability—yes, vulnerability—is one of the most underappreciated assets in business today. Too many people confuse secrecy with importance. Business schools teach us to keep everything close to our vest. But the world has changed. Power, today, comes from sharing information, not withholding it. More than ever, the lines demarcating the personal and the professional have blurred. We’re an open-source society, and that calls for open-source behavior. And as a rule, not many secrets are worth the energy required to keep them secret.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Let Another Praise You

Voddie Baucham recently wrote a blog post contrasting the recent speeches made by David Robinson and Michael Jordan as they were both inducted into the hall of fame. I had briefly heard of the contrast shortly after the event, but until now had not read much of what was said by either man. I thought Voddie did a good job at highlighting what was said by each player and revealing the sad state of anyone who is in constant need of attention and praise from others in order to justify himself.

He said at one point while listening to Jordan, Proverbs 27:2 came to his mind: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Here's one paragrah from the post, but I'd encourage you to read the whole thing:
"There was a stark difference between the two acceptance speeches. As I listened to the two speeches, all I could think of was the old commercial catchphrase, 'Like Mike... If I could be like Mike.' Unfortunately, in this instance, Mike was the last person anyone should aspire to be like. This was definitely not a Michael Jordan highlight. Jordan’s Speech was self-centered, indulgent, arrogant, and at times embarrassing. In contrast, David Robinson rose to the occasion and made a brief, inspiring, encouraging speech (see his speech here) that made his family, his team, and his friends proud."
(HT:Tim Challies)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stirring Your Affections For Christ

In a recent interview, Matt Chandler answered various questions posed by the Leadership Journal.

I liked his response to the question, "What does warring against sin look like?" I liked it because it speaks to a gospel-oriented fight instead of doing behaviorism.
Sanctification here at The Village begins by answering two questions. What stirs your affections for Jesus Christ? And what robs you of those affections? Many of the things that stifle growth are morally neutral. They're not bad things. Facebook is not bad. Television and movies are not bad. I enjoy TV, but it doesn't take long for me to begin to find humorous on TV what the Lord finds heartbreaking.

The same goes for following sports. It's not wrong, but if I start watching sports, I begin to care too much. I get stupid. If 19-year-old boys are ruining your day because of what they do with a ball, that's a problem. These things rob my affections for Christ. I want to fill my life with things that stir my affections for him. After a funeral I walked around the cemetery and found a grave of a guy who died when he was my age. I felt my mortality in that moment and it made me love the Lord. It really did. Some types of epic films do that for me, and so does angst-filled music.

We want our people to think beyond simply what's right and wrong. We want them to fill their lives with things that stir their affections for Jesus Christ and, as best as they can, to walk away from things that rob those affections—even when they're not immoral.
(HT:Christ Community Church)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Saddened by Westboro Baptist Church

Have you ever heard of this church? Upon first glance, you might believe it to be a farce. But sadly, it is very real.

I ran across this video yesterday on Brett McCracken's blog. It's a short documentary done by the BBC where a journalist spends several days getting to know the people of the church. The video is just under an hour long, but I found every minute of it to be an interesting look at a very confused group of people.

I went through several different emotions while watching the video: anger, disgust, intrigue, shock, disbelief, sadness. It's this last emotion that has stuck with me. I truly am saddened that these people have embraced this message of hate and have missed the fullness of the gospel. And I am saddened that many non-Christians see this and are further turned away from who God really is.

It is true that God hates sin. In this day, many downplay this reality. God is often portrayed only as a God of love that really doesn't think sin is that big of a deal. But sin is a big deal. So much so that God the Father sent His Son to gruesomely die and absorb His wrath towards it. But thankfully there's more to the gospel than this hate.

Consider this logic from Isaiah 30:18 (with a little help from my ESV Study Bible this morning). After 17 verses of a people being portrayed as rebellious, wicked, and stubborn, Isaiah says THEREFORE the LORD waits to be gracious to this very people. Because of their sinfulness, God is waiting to be gracious to them. That's amazing. And that's the gospel that the world needs to hear and I need to hear.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Moralism and being "raised right"

Al Mohler's recent blog post looks at the controversy that Paul addresses in the book of Galatians. The Galatian church was believing a false gospel. They thought that circumcision and other such outward behavior was really the point, what set them right with God.

Having grown up in the South, a particular section of Mohler's post resonated with me. He mentions how the novelist Ferrol Sams described the deeply-ingrained tradition of being "raised right.":
"As he explained, the child who is 'raised right' pleases his parents and other adults by adhering to moral conventions and social etiquette. A young person who is 'raised right' emerges as an adult who obeys the laws, respects his neighbors, gives at least lip service to religious expectations, and stays away from scandal. The point is clear -- this is what parents expect, the culture affirms, and many churches celebrate. But our communities are filled with people who have been 'raised right' but are headed for hell."
This is by no means an indictment on my parents or any other set of parents necessarily. It is the sin nature in parent and child that makes us hard-wired to believe that following rules makes us righteous. And living in the South, with a "church on every corner", makes it very easy to continue to believe right behavior equals right standing with God.

Over the last few months, God has pointed out some major ways that I have embraced behaviorism without even knowing it. I am thankful that He is continuing the work that He promised to complete in me, by stripping me of all my self-made righteousness, and causing me to cling only to the righteousness of Christ.

Mohler's conclusion sums it up well:
"We are justified by faith alone, saved by grace alone, and redeemed from our sin by Christ alone. Moralism produces sinners who are (potentially) better behaved. The Gospel of Christ transforms sinners into the adopted sons and daughters of God.

The Church must never evade, accommodate, revise, or hide the law of God. Indeed, it is the Law that shows us our sin and makes clear our inadequacy and our total lack of righteousness. The Law cannot impart life but, as Paul insists, it 'has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.' [Gal. 3:24]

The deadly danger of moralism has been a constant temptation to the church and an ever-convenient substitute for the Gospel. Clearly, millions of our neighbors believe that moralism is our message. Nothing less than the boldest preaching of the Gospel will suffice to correct this impression and to lead sinners to salvation in Christ.

Hell will be highly populated with those who were 'raised right.' The citizens of heaven will be those who, by the sheer grace and mercy of God, are there solely because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Moralism is not the gospel."