Friday, October 29, 2010

You Will Not Believe

"Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe," Jesus said. What a strange response after he had just been asked to heal an official's son! Why would he give that response? Join us this Lord's Day to hear Jesus' word and to grasp what it means to believe in him.

Songs
Chosen of God (#290)
Doxology
Psalm 119f
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (#588)
Psalm 117a

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 14; Psalm 110
New Testament: Matthew 9:18-38

Sermon
You Will Not Believe - John 4:43-54

P.S. Attentive readers may have already noticed that our songs have to do with the Reformation. October 31 is "Reformation Day." No candy and costumes; we will sing great hymns!

P.S.S. Here are some good suggestions on serving the church each Sunday morning when we gather.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Samaritans and Sukkoth

Since we just studied Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman last Lord's Day, you might be interested in this splendid set of photographs of contemporary Samaritans celebrating Sukkot (the feast of tabernacles or booths), which commemorates the forty years of wandering in the wilderness.

(HT: BiblePlaces.com)

Not Conservative, Just Old

You will want to follow the series of posts by Scott Aniol seeking to define "conservatism."

The first post articulates two pillars of conservatism:

The first is affirmation of transcendent, absolute principles, a belief that such principles are knowable, and a commitment to align one’s self to those principles. Now the three big transcendentals are truth, goodness, and beauty. 

The second pillar of conservatism is a commitment to conserve those institutions and forms that best reflect a recognition and respect for this transcendent order. 

He makes this important observation, There is a huge difference between being truly conservative and being merely anti-contemporary. My fear is that there are a lot of people, especially within the fundamentalist heritage, who are certainly anti-contemporary in their practice, but they do not really have truly conservative underpinnings for their practice. And so they often end up defending traditions that are certainly not part of the current pop culture, but neither are they really conservative either. What they defend is not conservative, it’s just old.

Read it here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Good Medicine

Once in a while, it is good to simply sit back and laugh at ourselves. After all, we humans regularly deserve more than a hearty guffaw. Since I have been thinking about church unity lately, here is something at which to chuckle (or groan).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Loving the Church

I recently reviewed the book Loving the Church by John Crotts. You can read the review here at SharperIron.org.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Missions Motivation

Powerful missionary activity has always been compelled by the conviction that the light of nature is not sufficient to bring men to a right relationship with God. Men must hear the good news of Jesus Christ in order to be converted. Here is David Brainerd's testimony to that conviction.

"It is easy to harangue upon the excellency and advantage of the light of nature. It is agreeable to the pride of mankind to exalt the powers of human reason, and pronounce it a sufficient guide to eternal happiness. But let us inquire into the records of antiquity, let us consult the experience of all ages, and we shall find, that those who had no guide but the light of nature, no instructor but unassisted reason, have wandered in perpetual uncertainty, darkness, and error. Or let us take a view of the present state of those countries that have not been illuminated by the gospel; and we shall see, that notwithstanding the improvements of near six thousand years, they remain to this day covered with the grossest darkness, and abandoned to the most immoral and vicious practices."

(taken from his ordination sermon, preached June 12, 1744)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Sufficiency of Scripture

This is a doctrine that comes into play every day in many ways in our lives. Here is a simple outline, drawn from several sources, of the doctrine.

What does the sufficiency of Scripture mean?


Wayne Grudem gives a good definition: “The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly” (Systematic Theology, 127).

The Westminster Confession of Faith says, “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed” (1.6).


Where does the Bible teach this?

a. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 is one key passage.

b. See also Psalm 119:1; Isa 29:13-14; Mark 7:8; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Rev 22:18-19.

c. Hebrews 1:1-4 also has important implications for our understanding. Since God has given the ultimate revelation of himself in his Son, and that revelation is authoritatively recorded only in the Scripture, we need not look elsewhere for understanding God’s redemptive plan.


What are the practical implications of this doctrine?

a. God tells us in the Bible everything we need to know from him about how to think or live.

b. We must not add anything to the Bible.

c. We should not think of any other information as equal to the Bible in truth or authority.

d. God’s requirements for our lives must be defined by the Scriptures, either directly or by good and necessary consequence. We may not call something sin unless we can demonstrate it biblically.

e. In our ethical reasoning, we ought to emphasize what the Scripture emphasizes. Topics and issues in Scripture that are less clear should be lesser in importance to us.

f. We must be content with what God has told us.


What does this doctrine not teach?

a. It does not teach that the Bible is the only factor in making ethical decisions. It teaches that the Bible contains all the divine words that we need. There are other things that we need to live wisely, such as the illumination of the Spirit, correct use of the tools God has given us, and natural revelation.

b. It does not teach that the Bible is the only source of information we may use in decision making.

c. It does not teach that natural revelation is irrelevant. In fact, natural revelation and special revelation must go together. The important point is that special revelation norms or controls our understanding of natural revelation.

d. It does not teach that logic, or right use of reason, is unnecessary. Diligent study and correct reasoning are indispensible to rightly using Scripture.

e. It does not teach that we may not have human teachers, especially those who are well-informed on relevant topics or who are good examples in their wisdom. On the contrary, the Scripture indicates the importance of other people in our discipleship.

f. It does not teach that there are no other legitimate authorities in our lives. In fact, the Bible itself specifically legitimizes other authorities. However, these authorities are always subordinate to the Scripture.


At its heart, this doctrine represents the fact that God alone is the Lord who has ultimate authority.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Believing the One Who Is from Above

"He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). When John the Baptist spoke these words about Jesus, he wasn't just being humble (although he truly was humble). He was making a statement of absolute fact. Jesus, not John, is the one from above, and he is above all. There is no one like Jesus. That's why you must believe in him. Join us this Lord's Day to be like John and rejoice greatly in Jesus.

Songs
Joy to the World (#92)
Arise, My Soul, Arise (#174)
Hark, the Glad Sound (#126)
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (tune: Kingsford)
The Name High Over All (#31)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 12; Psalm 105
New Testament: Matthew 8:18-34

Sermon
Believe the One Who Is from Above - John 3:22-36

Thursday, October 07, 2010

"Spirituality"

Read this article.

It is the perfect illustration of what happens when "spirituality" displaces biblical Christianity, even when it goes by the name of Christianity.

Dr. Mohler nails it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Applications of Ephesians 6:4

John MacArthur talks about some applications of "not provoking your children to anger" in this message. Good to ponder and apply.

Obey!

The next chapter of The Family at Church gives some clear advice on practicing the preached Word.Here is a brief condensation of the chapter.


1. Strive to retain and pray over what you have heard. Joseph Alleine said one way to remember the preached Word is to “come from your knees to the sermon, and come from the sermon to your knees.”
2. Familiarize yourself with the truths you have heard. When you come home from church, speak to your loved ones about the sermon you have heard in an edifying, practical manner. Encourage your children to take notes on the sermon. After the last service each Sabbath, we read through those notes as a family and talk our way through the sermons. In addition, speak with fellow believers about the sermons. Share some of the lessons you are learning from the Word. Do not engage in frivolous, worldly conversation after a sermon. Most important, familiarize yourself with the sermon by meditating in private upon what you have heard in public.
3. Put the sermon into action. A sermon is not over when the minister says “Amen.” Rather that is when the true sermon begins. In an old Scottish story, a wife asked her husband if the sermon was done. “No,” he replied, “It has been said, but it has yet to be done.” Ask older, more experienced Christians for advice. Thank God for all that you receive. Lean upon the Holy Spirit. (The Family at Church, Joel Beeke, chapter 4)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Who can comprehend the love of God?

I hope you will join us this Lord's Day to rejoice in the love of God for this sinful world.

Songs
O Father, Thou Whose Love Profound (#29)
Arise, My Soul, Arise (#174)
God Loved the World (#244)
O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus (#249)
Salvation! O My Soul Rejoice! (#291)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Genesis 11:10-32; Psalm 47
New Testament: Matthew 8:1-17

Sermon
God So Loved the World - John 3:16