Friday, April 11, 2014

Propitiation for the Whole World

The Bible was not written to be a brickbat. Sadly, 1 John 2:2 has sometimes been used in that way, heaved out of context and hurled at theological opponents' heads as if it would settle the debate, in particular, the debate over the question, "For whom did Christ die?"

We are not out to bash heads this Lord's Day. We are out to win hearts with what the Scripture actually says. We have considered (to some degree) the context of 1 John 2:2 in order to clearly place before our eyes God's purpose in giving us this text. Now we want to gain the confidence and joy that comes from knowing that we have the true God and eternal life by laying hold of the strong truth that "he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world."

Songs
Chosen of God (290)
Salvation! O My Soul, Rejoice! (291)
The Church's One Foundation (221)
A Debtor to Mercy Alone (614)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 21:21-35; Psalm 98
New Testament: John 6:60-71

Sermon
Propitiation for the Sins of the Whole World - 1 John 2:2

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Knowing that You Know Jesus

The older we get in this life, the more we realize that true friendships are a cherished treasure. They are a place our hearts can rest. They are a source of never-failing joy.

This is but a human analogy of the ultimate home for our hearts, our relationship with God. Throughout our earthly pilgrimage, there is nothing like knowing that we have come to know him.

This Lord's Day we will begin to tap into that rest and joy. Join us!

Songs
Come, We That Love the Lord (223)
Trust and Obey (525)
Psalm 84
May the Mind of Christ My Savior (476)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 21:1-20; Psalm 97
New Testament: John 6:22-59

Sermon
Knowing that You Know Jesus - 1 John 2:3-6

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Walking Like Jesus

I apologize for being so late to post this week. As I was away at a missions conference, I neglected my responsibilities here.

Here is what you need to know for serving the Lord together tomorrow.

Songs
Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus (81)
Psalm 51
Jesus, in His Heavenly Glory (170)
Before the Throne of God Above (177)
The Savior to Glory Is Gone (178)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 20:14-29; Psalm 92
New Testament: John 6:1-21

Sermon
Walking Like Jesus - 1 John 2:1-6

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Seeing the Real World

Jim Hamilton says, "To catch a glimpse of the world as [the biblical authors] saw it is to see the real world"
(What Is Biblical Theology?).

Right on.

He goes on to say, "What I'm suggesting is that the Bible teaches Christians how the Bible should be read." Furthermore, he asks, "How should a follower of Jesus read the Bible? The way Jesus did....The biblical authors model a perspective for interpreting the Bible, history, and current events. Should we adopt that perspective today? Absolutely. Why? I'm convinced that the biblical authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit, that God guided them to the truth by his Spirit, and that, therefore, they got it right."

Preach it, brother.

He closes with this hope, which is our hope as a church. "I hope that you will adopt the perspective of the biblical authors and that you will read the world from the Bible's perspective, rather than reading the Bible from the world's."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thinking Seriously of Propitiation


“In the New Testament, as in the Old, a good deal depends upon our conception of the place and nature of the wrath of God. If this wrath is regarded as a very real factor so that the sinner is exposed to its severity, then the removal of the wrath will be an important part of our understanding of salvation; whereas if we diminish the part played by the divine wrath we shall not find it necessary to think seriously of propitiation."

 Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross

Just Like Jesus

Studying 1 John, I've been struck with how much John sounds like Jesus. This perception isn't based on word frequency studies or language pattern studies or anything scientific of that sort. It's just that I recognize a melody, and even harmonies, that I've heard before.

Jesus had so impressed his character and his teaching upon the beloved disciple that when John spoke, he sounded like Jesus. So much so, that even little terms of endearment came out the same: "My little children" John says (2:1; cf. 2:12, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21), just like Jesus (John 13:33). Jesus' words truly were abiding in him.


I pray that all Christ's sheep who hear us speak would say, "This sounds familiar. I've heard this voice before." I pray that everyone who hears us speak would say, "You sound a lot like Jesus."

Friday, March 21, 2014

God: Light or Liar?

The Apostle John had a way of putting things that packs a pastoral punch. That is to say, his deep concern and tender care for our spiritual condition is clear, while at the same time he is radically blunt and uncompromising. We get a good taste of this medicine in our text for this Lord's Day. So, come and take your medicine. It is life-giving stuff.

Songs
God Himself Is Present
Holy, Holy, Holy (3)
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise (23)
O for a Heart to Praise My God (70)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 20:1-13; Psalm 89:1-18
New Testament: John 5:18-47

Sermon
God: Light or Liar? - 1 John 1:5-10

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why Confess Sins?

Some Christians wonder, Why do I have to continually confess my sins if Christ has already paid for them and forgiven me of them?

That's a good question, and we are going to address it this Lord's Day as we continue in our series of sermons through 1 John.

Songs
Arise, My Soul, Arise (174)
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness (400)
Our Great Savior (434)
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing (69)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 19:1-22; Psalm 80
New Testament: John 5:1-17

Sermon
Confession and Cleansing for Christians - 1 John 1:9

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Athanasian Worldview

Peter Leithart gives a great summary of Athanasius' worldview, which is relevant to what we as a church are learning from the early creeds.

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."

"The second half of the the first article of the Apostles' Creed is arguably as central to Athanasius' theology as his formulations of trinitarian theology or Christology. Creation gave him a number of his most fundamental metaphysical convictions. The doctrine of creation implied an ontological distinction between Creator and creature, a distinction that remains intact, no matter how intimately God unites himself with human nature or how elevated human beings are in grace. God remains God and creation remains created. To be created is to be dependent, and creation manifests its own dependence,thus providing a kind of negative proof for the existence of an independent Creator. God created out of his goodness, not from need, so that creation is a pointer to God's generosity. Creation is orderly and thus manifests not just God in general but the 'logic' of God, that is, the eternal divine Logos. The good God creates a world that is good, and all that is participates in his goodness. Body and soul are both created, both equally contingent and dependent, both equally susceptible to change and decay. Bodies are not evil. Evil, for Athanasius as much as for Augustine, is no substance, but a breach with the source of existence and therefore a move toward non-existence. Sin is 'decreation.' If the doctrine of the Trinity is at the center of the patristic 'evangelization of metaphysics,' the doctrine of creation is close by its side. The doctrine of the Trinity is about the character of ultimate reality; creation is the fundamental statement about the metaphysics of visible and contingent reality. For Athansius, the two doctrines are intimately related: only a Triune God can create."

Athanasius, 89-90

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rotting Corpses

Flesh cannot achieve life by more flesh.

It takes Spirit to put the flesh to death and raise it again to new life.

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Difference Between Night and Day

Last week I drove up Coal Creek Canyon at night, and drove back down it during the day. The difference was phenomenal. It was, as we say, the difference between night and day. In the daylight, I could see where I was going and what was around me. 

Realizing that God is light has huge implications for our lives and relationship with God. If that is who he is, then our relationship with him must correspond to who he is. The Scripture unfolds some of those implications in our text for this Lord's Day. Join us to walk in the light.

Songs
Salvation! O My Soul Rejoice (291)
Psalm 51
Psalm 32b
Just As I Am (332)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 18:8-32; Psalm 65
New Testament: John 4:46-54

Sermon
Living in Sin-Confessing Light - 1 John 1:8-9

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Rum Thing

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the significant American jurist, did not understand sin from God's perspective. Hence, Augustine's depiction of sin in his Confessions struck him as odd.

In a letter to his friend Harold Laski on January 5, 1921, Holmes commented that he had received two books as Christmas gifts, one by Marcel Proust and one by Augustine. "Of the two," he said, "I would rather read St. Augustine." Apparently he admired the intellectual virtuosity and devotion of the author. "It is like a painting by Morland set over an altar," he observed.

But that did not mean he agreed with Augustine. His next comment, although brief, is telling. "Rum thing to see a man making a mountain out of robbing a pear tree in his teens."

Such is the view of many who wish to define sin in some way other than the Bible defines sin. "Sin is lawlessness," the apostle John says (1 John 3:4). Augustine got it. To him, his gratuitous and twisted delight in sinning just for the pleasure of sinning exposed how lawless he was.

Anyone whom the Spirit of God has opened his eyes to see himself rightly before God gets it, too. This is why Paul could call himself the chief of sinners even though before his conversion he was "blameless" under the law (1 Tim 1:15; Phil 3:6). Sin goes deep, way deeper than our actions. It goes down to our affections and our wills. It goes the heart. Once you realize that, the good news of Christ is not odd. It is amazing.

All of Grace

Reading through the Psalms this year, it has stirred me to notice how frequently they are punctuated by "Be merciful to me, O Lord!" or "Be gracious to me!" The redeemed heart knows that he cannot live if God does not exercise his saving work on his behalf. God's free favor, his face shining upon us, is life itself. This recognition cannot help but come out constantly in cries to God for grace.

Prayers to God for grace are evidence that we rest entirely on God's grace, for life with him is all of grace.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Precious Blood

Peter called the blood of Jesus "precious." I hope you feel the same way, and this Lord's Day we will see why Jesus' blood means so much to us.

Songs
Come, Thou Fount (243)
O Sacred Head Now Wounded (139)
'Tis the Christ (150)
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (137)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 17:1-18:7; Psalm 44
New Testament: John 4:27-45

Sermon
The Blood of Jesus His Son - 1 John 1:7

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Law Can't Fix It

The fundamental question addressed by Galatians thus is not 'What is wrong with Judaism (or the Sinaitic law)?' but 'What is wrong with humanity that Judaism (and the Sinaitic law) cannot remedy?'

Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul