Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Battle Is the Lord's

With all the deceptive spirits roaming the land, you might think Christians should find a deep cave and see how we do as trolls for a few generations. But such a spirit of fear is not from the Lord. In the face of the spirit of error, we have tremendous confidence, for the Spirit of God is in us, and he is greater than all. Join us this Lord's Day to lay hold of the great confidence that is ours in Christ.

Joy to the World (92)
Angels We Have Heard on High (89)
O Little Town of Bethlehem (94)
What Child Is This? (103)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 4:25-49; Psalm 16
New Testament: John 19:31-42

Confident Conquerors in Christ - 1 John 4:1-6

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Jesus Christ has Come in the Flesh

"True God of true God,
Light of light eternal,
Lo, he abhors not the virgin's womb.
Son of the Father, begotten not created.

O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ, the Lord."

This is what we will sing this Lord's Day, and in this way we will confess with joy that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. But why is this confession a touchstone for testing the spirits? How does it work in our lives?

Besides confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, we will also consider carefully how this confession gives us discernment. Join us!

O Come, All Ye Faithful (88)
O Come, O Come Emmanuel (87)
God's Son Given (101)
To Us a Child of Hope Is Born (114)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 4:1-24; Psalm 89:1-4, 35-37
New Testament: John 19:23-30

Jesus Christ Has Come in the Flesh - 1 John 4:1-6

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Test the Spirits

Having God's Spirit of love does not mean that we just accept every person and every teaching that comes along. The Scripture will not allow us such naivety. This Lord's Day we will learn to test the spirits in order to discern the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (90). We begin by confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. 
My Soul Be on Thy Guard (595). We remind one another to watch out for any who would draw us away from Christ.
Rejoice, Believer, in the Lord (627). We rejoice in the victory God gives us.
He Who Would Valiant Be (507). We close with Bunyan's reminder to be valiant in this present world.

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 3:18-29; Psalm 143
New Testament: John 19:1-22

Test the Spirits - 1 John 4:1-6

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Oh Give Thanks to the Lord

Dear HCBC Family and Friends,

Giving thanks to the Lord is the best way to make known that he is God, and we have a special opportunity to do just that tomorrow. I hope you have been thinking on the Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness this week in order to stir up your hearts to praise him.

When we meet, we will base our response to the Lord on Psalm 107 (see below). I would encourage you to read through that psalm this evening, either personally or with your family.

We will follow our service of thanksgiving with a thanksgiving feast! During that time, we would like to hear testimonies from you of what the Lord has done for your soul this year.

The Lord is great, and greatly to be praised. May the Spirit give us the grace to do that together tomorrow.

Service of Thanksgiving
Call to Worship (Reading Psalm 107:1-3 in unison)
Choir: I Will Give Thanks
Psalm 107:4-9 - The Lord satisfies the longing soul.
Hymn: Psalm 23b
Psalm 107:10-16 - The Lord cuts in two the bars of iron.
Hymn: From Depths of Woe (337)
Psalm 107:17-22 - The Lord sends out his word and heals our sins.
Amazing Grace (setting by Richard Barber)
Psalm 107:23-32 - The Lord brings us safely to the desired haven.
Hymn: We Gather Together (709)
Psalm 107:33-42 - Gladness for the Lord's great works
Hymn: Now Thank We All Our God (5)
Psalm 107:43 (Reading in unison)

Sermon: Giving Thanks for Fellowship with God - 1 John

The Lord's Supper
Hymn: Psalm 117b

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Life of Prayer

The Christian life is a life of joyful dependence upon God demonstrated in prayer. Join us tomorrow to enjoy that communion with God.

Psalm 95
Behold the Throne of Grace (670)
Lord Jesus Christ, We Seek Thy Face (667)
Our Great Savior (434)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 3:1-17; Psalm 135
New Testament: John 18:28-40

Confident Communion: Whatever We Ask We Receive - 1 John 3:21-22

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Assuring Our Hearts

There is no deeper torture than a tormented conscience, and there is no greater peace than confidence before God. Real confidence before God is exactly what the Scripture intends to give us tomorrow. Join us.

Arise, My Soul, Arise! (174)
Psalm 42
It Is Well with My Soul (371)
The Name High Over All (31)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 2:16-37; Psalm 41
New Testament: John 18:15-27

Assuring Our Hearts - 1 John 3:19-24

Saturday, November 01, 2014

How to Love in Deed and Truth in Our Manners


Yes, manners. Manners matter. God cares about our manners, for through them we demonstrate love to God and others or we demonstrate indifference and desecration. Decorum always has moral implications.

Join us tomorrow as we continue our quest to love God and others with real love that shapes our entire lives.

O for a Heart to Praise My God (70)
Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart (193)
Holy Spirit, Lead Us Now (198)
Rejoice! Rejoice, Believers (191)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 2:1-15; Psalm 40
New Testament: John 18:1-14

How to Love in Deed and Truth in Our Manners - 1 John 3:11-18

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Love Does No Wrong

The way I figure it, if the one who loves his brother abides in the light (1 John 2:10), then it is pretty important to love my brother. Because it is so important, we've been fixing our attention on what it looks like to love, not in word or talk, but in deed and truth. Tomorrow, we will consider what love has to do with our morals, since "love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 12:10).

Give to Our God Immortal Praise (53)
Psalm 1
Take Time to Be Holy (469)
Christian Hearts in Love United

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 1:1-25; Psalm 15
New Testament: John 17:1-12

How to Love in Deed and Truth in Our Morals - 1 John 3:16-18; Romans 12:8-10

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Love in Deed and Truth

The Word of God tells us not to love in word or talk but "in deed and truth." We must love in actions which are true actions, actions which participate in truth. We must love in truth which issues in right actions. Now that the Scripture has taught us what it means to love in deed and truth, we need to do the hard work of applying it faithfully to every area of life, starting with our worship. Join us to practice loving in deed and truth.

Holy, Holy, Holy (3)
Psalm 148a
O Worship the King (46)
Glory Be to God the Father (72)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 36:1-13; Psalm 29
New Testament: John 16:16-33

How to Love in Deed and Truth in Our Worship - 1 John 3:16-18; 1 Corinthians 14:40

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Announcing "A Conservative Christian Declaration"

I'm delighted that A Conservative Christian Declaration is now in print, thanks to Scott Aniol's leadership. You can order the book at here, or you can go to the Religious Affections Ministries website for more information.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How to Lay Down Our Lives for the Brothers

We want to keep the new commandment, "Love one another." But in order to do that, we must learn to love. Join us this Lord's Day, and the following ones, to pursue love.

O Worship the King (46)
May the Mind of Christ My Savior (476)
More Love to Thee (477)
Christian Hearts in Love United

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 34:1-29; Psalm 85
New Testament: John 15:1-11

How to Lay Down Our Lives for the Brothers in our Church - 1 John 3:16-18 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Thine Be the Glory

Three and a half years ago we held our first service at Colorado Springs Charter Academy. Tomorrow we will hold our last service there, for the Lord has amazingly given us our own property now. We closed that first service with the song "Thine Be the Glory," and we will close our service tomorrow with the same most appropriate hymn.

Come prepared tomorrow to give God the glory for all that he has done and for all that we have to look forward to as we attempt great things for his name's sake.

O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing (69)
I Sing the Mighty Power of God (19)
Fairest Lord Jesus (21)
Thine Be the Glory (162)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 33:38-56; Psalm 68:11-18
New Testament: John 14:15-31

Worship in Missions - Jeff Smith

Friday, August 01, 2014

Live Like Your Father

God has lavished great love on us to make us his children, and we have the hope before us of seeing him as he is. But all who are God's children have God's character. They live like their Father. What does your life say about whose child you are?

I invite you to join us at High Country Baptist Church this Lord's Day as we seek to live up to all that we are as God's children.

Praise Him! Praise Him! (12)
Arise, My Soul, Arise (174)
Psalm 1
Lord, How Delightful (726)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 31:25-54; Psalm 126
New Testament: John 13:1-20

How the Children of God Live - 1 John 3:4-10

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Open Your Eyes

Love is at the heart of life with God, for God is love. The Scripture calls upon us to see that love which will transform our lives. Join us to pursue that vision.

Lord Jesus Christ, We Seek Thy Face (667)
How Glorious Zion's Courts Appear (631)
On Jordan's Stormy Banks (649)
Praise the Savior (17)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 30:1-16; Psalm 124
New Testament: John 12:12-26

Behold What Love! - 1 John 3:1-3

Friday, July 11, 2014

Not Ashamed

"They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, 'You are our gods'" (Isaiah 42:17, ESV).

The opposite of trusting in idols is abiding in Christ, and these two ways have opposite outcomes, being put to shame or confidence and joy, at Christ's coming. We want the second outcome in our lives, and if you want that too, join us to abide in Christ this Lord's Day.

Joy to the World (92)
I'm Not Ashamed (403)
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness (400)
Christ Returneth (187)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 29:12-40; Psalm 123
New Testament: John 12:1-11

Not Ashamed - 1 John 2:28-29

Friday, July 04, 2014

Grateful to Be an American

I am first and foremost and forevermore a citizen of the kingdom of God. That is my true homeland. That is where my loyalty lies. My heart beats for the New Jerusalem and her King.

But I am called to live out that loyalty here and now as a citizen of the United States of America, and it is because of that loyalty that I am grateful to be an American. One needs only a passing acquaintance with the history of nations to realize how kind God has been to this nation and how kind God has been to me to make me a son of this nation.

There are many, many things to be grateful for on this Independence Day, but I want to specifically thank the Lord for making me an American.

The Great Teacher

Our brother Jeff will not be able to bring the Word to us this Lord's Day, as originally planned, since he is with his parents, ministering to them in their time of need. Therefore, we will continue meditating upon 1 John 2:27 and the anointing that God has given to us to know him in this last hour.

Holy, Holy, Holy (3)
Amazing Grace (247)
Jesus Loves Me (719)
Now Thank We All Our God (5)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 29:1-11; Psalm 136
New Testament: John 11:28-57

No Need that Anyone Should Teach You - 1 John 2:27

Friday, June 27, 2014

Abiding in Christ

"Abide in him." This is a command from God to all of us who believe in Jesus. But what does that mean?

I asked myself that question this week as I repaired decks, cleaned the house, trained children, talked to pastors, counseled, studied the Word, met with saints for prayer, went on a date with my wife, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. What does abiding in Christ have to do with all these things?

When the Son of God came in the flesh, he bridged the gap between mankind and God. He united in himself God and man, effecting a relationship that had never before been possible. Man could now dwell in God, and God's Spirit could pervade man. A mutual abiding goes on in the living relationship between God and his people. This abiding is the antidote to antichrists. It is the core of all Christian living. Come join us this Lord's Day to learn to abide in Christ.

Praise the Savior (17)
Psalm 42 (Genevan Psalter)
How Glorious Zion's Courts Appear (631)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 28:16-31; Psalm 20
New Testament: John 11:1-27

Anointed Ones Overcome Antichrists by Abiding in Christ - 1 John 2:18-27

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Crisis of Confidence

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter faced a crisis of confidence in this nation. Gas shortages, inflation, and high unemployment produced an uneasy feeling among Americans that the future was not so bright. President Carter’s approval ratings dipped lower than Richard Nixon’s had during the Watergate scandal. On July 15, the President gave a speech, sometimes called the most important speech of his presidency, hoping to inspire the nation. It didn’t work. The next year, the country looked elsewhere for hope by electing Ronald Reagan as the 39th president of the U.S.  

Nations are not the only entities to have a crisis of confidence. Churches do. Christians do. Perhaps you have. Tomorrow, we will gather to hear what God has to say to people faced with a spiritual crisis of confidence, and we will find that he has provided precisely what we need for living in the last hour.

O God, Our Help in Ages Past (49)
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah (495)
Psalm 27b
A Sovereign Protector I Have (615)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 28:1-15; Psalm 119:105-112
New Testament: John 10:22-42

Confidence in the Abiding Anointing - 1 John 2:18-27

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Antichrists vs. Anointed Ones

If you wanted to give someone confidence and joy, would you bring up antichrists? Sounds apocalyptic, not assuring.

Part of the problem, no doubt, has to do with our diseased imaginations of "antichrists," something along the lines of a diabolical character in a horror movie. But part of the problem, as well, may have to do with our assumption that confidence and joy come in the absence of opposition and danger.

If that is what we assume, we won't have much confidence and joy in our Christian lives. God knows this, so he doesn't try to hide from us the reality of the world in which we live. We live in the last hour with many antichrists. But God also reveals to us his perfect provision for just such an occasion. You can have confidence and joy in knowing that you have the true God and eternal life.

Come, Christians, Join to Sing (67)
Eternal Spirit! Praise We Bring (207)
Come, Holy Ghost, Our God and Lord (209)
Our Great Savior (434)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 27:1-23; Psalm 113
New Testament: John 10:1-21

Confidence in the Last Hour - 1 John 2:18-27

Friday, June 06, 2014

Pursuing the Love of God

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you...." (Psa 63:1)

Being alert to the world's allure is only the defensive side of "do not love the world." Taking the offensive means we must pursue the love of God. Join us this Lord's Day in that pursuit.

Psalm 95
God Is the Treasure of My Soul (632)
Not I, But Christ (537)
Take My Life and Let It Be (560)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 26:35-65; Psalm 111
New Testament: John 9:24-41

Pursuing the Love of God - 1 John 2:15-17

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The World's Wooing

If you are not to love the world, then it would be wise to know how the world will woo you. How will it attract your delight and awaken your desires? How will it speak with a smooth tongue? How will it seduce you with promises of love? Only a fool would walk through life unprepared for the world's wiles. Don't be one.

Holy, Holy, Holy (3)
He Who Would Valiant Be (507)
Rejoice, Believer, in the Lord (627)
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (243)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 26:1-34; Psalm 108
New Testament: John 9:1-23

The World's Wooing - 1 John 2:15-17

Friday, May 23, 2014

Two Rival Loves

There's an old and tired trope that still trots out for laughs now and again, and it goes something like this:

This town ain't big enough for the both of us.

But in the case of what we will hear from the Scripture this Lord's Day, it is your heart that isn't big enough, and it is two rival loves that cannot coexist there. The life of one means the death of the other.

So choose your side. Who will you love - the world or the Father?

God Himself Is Present
Am I a Soldier of the Cross? (585)
Psalm 84
My Soul, Be on Thy Guard (595)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 25:1-18; Psalm 106:24-48
New Testament: John 8:48-59

Two Rival Loves - 1 John 2:15-17 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Encouragement for Those Who Know the True God

The more we take the first letter of John into ourselves, the more it becomes a message of deep encouragement. It takes fearful souls and trains them to rest in the living friendship of the true God. That friendship is on full display this Lord's Day as we consider 1 John 2:12-14. Join us for our meeting of friends!

Ye Servants of God (44)
God Be Merciful to Me (Psalm 51)
Soldiers of Christ, Arise (589)
Faith Is the Victory (596)
How Good Is the God We Adore (738)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 24:1-25; Psalm 106:1-23
New Testament: John 8:31-47

Writings to Reassure and Rouse the Soul - 1 John 2:12-14

Friday, May 09, 2014

Taught to Love

Wouldn't it be great if these words could be written about High Country Baptist Church?

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another (1 Thess 4:9).

As we hear our Lord speak to us this Lord's Day, we trust that he will teach us to love the brothers. Join us to experience living in this new reality brought by Jesus.

Now Thank We All Our God (5)
Let Us Love (483)
Christian Hearts in Love United
Breathe On Me, Breath of God (202)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 23:1-30; Psalm 100
New Testament: John 8:12-30

Walking in Darkness or Abiding in the Light - 1 John 2:7-11

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Living in the Light Means Living in Love

Suddenly it struck me--I have not given you anything with which to prepare for our assembly tomorrow! With many apologies, here is what you need to know.

Psalm 117b
Psalm 118b
Psalm 119d
Come, Holy Spirit, Come (211)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 22:22-41; Psalm 99
New Testament: John 7:25-52

The New Old Commandment - 1 John 2:7-11

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Books on Definite Atonement

As a follow up to last Sunday's sermon, here are some good resources on the doctrine of definite atonement, or, as Lee Gatiss calls it, the doctrine of "personal intentional effective atonement."

If you are new to the subject, a good place to start might be R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross. Dr. Sproul provides an accessible overview of what Christ accomplished on the cross, and he also deals with the issue of definite atonement. If you want to go a bit more in depth you can read John Murray's standard, Redemption Accomplished and Applied.

Zeroing in on books that deal specifically with issue of the extent of the atonement, you should not avoid the weighty tome by John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. On the other hand, I do not recommend that you start with this book unless you are used to seventeenth century theological writing.

Instead, I recommend that you pick up a copy of Lee Gatiss' For Us and For Our Salvation. It is brief (134 pp), clear, learned, and charitable.It is a great place to start.

But my favorite book on definite atonement is now From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, edited by David and Jonathan Gibson. It is a first-rate piece of work. It is clear and comprehensive. It made me rejoice anew in the power and glory of the cross.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Whole World

Yes, we really do mean to say that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and we mean to say it loudly and clearly because the Bible says that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). But if we reject universalism, and even hypothetical universalism, then how does that work?

Join us this Lord's Day to open your hearts to the awesome power and scope of Jesus Christ's work on the cross.

Crown Him with Many Crowns (52)
Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed? (141)
Arise, My Soul, Arise (174)
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (137)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 22:1-21; Psalm 91
New Testament: John 7:1-24

Propitiation for the Sins of the Whole World (Part 2) - 1 John 2:2

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Our Children and Our Music

Over at Religious Affections Ministries website, Scott Aniol continues to publish brief articles explaining "A Conservative Christian Declaration." I have contributed some thoughts on Article 14: On Our Children, which you can read here.

And while you are over there, you really should check out Harold Best vs. Ken Myers on Musical Meaning. Myers has been a voice of sanity in this area for some time, and I hope he gets a wide hearing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Tale of Human Nature

A few weeks ago I read Walter A. McDougall's Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era 1829-1877. It's a book full of jocular pugnacity. McDougall enjoys skewering American pretense, but he does so as a man who believes that "the United States (so far) is the greatest success story in history" (xii). He sees American history as "chock-full of cruelty and love, hypocrisy and faith, cowardice and courage, plus no small measure of tongue-in-cheek humor. American history is a tale of human nature set free." Thus he concludes, "So how you, the reader, respond to this book will depend in good part on how you yourself (all pretense aside!) regard human nature."

I commend this book to you. It will inject life into that delightful and dreadful task of coming to know ourselves. In particular, I appreciated McDougall's insights into America's civil religion, for American civil religion has long been a major force subtly competing with Christianity.

You can watch an introduction to this book here on C-Span. McDougall gives some comments on civil religion around the 45 minute mark.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tenebrae Service

Tonight at 7:30 p.m. is our Tenebrae Service to commemorate our Lord’s death in our place on the cross. This service is unique in that we focus wholly on the stark, dark reality of the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sin. Even though our lives in Christ are characterized by joy, that joy came at great cost, and if we are not to treat that joy frivolously, then we must have a place for sobriety and even mourning. This service is our opportunity to do this together as a congregation. The Tenebrae Service is not a time for fellowship, and so we ask you to leave quietly at the conclusion of the service, pondering the weight of your own sins that Jesus took in your place. Pray for the Lord to touch your heart with the glorious gravity of the cross.

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."

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

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!

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

Walking in the Light

I want the real God, and I believe you do, also. We don't want substitutes, imitations, and after-market parts.  So now that God has shown us his real nature in 1 John, we are ready to see what real fellowship with him looks like. Join us this Lord's Day to walk in the light of the Lord.

Psalm 95
There Is a Fountain (267)
And Can It Be? (335)
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness (400)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 16:25-50; Psalm 37:1-11
New Testament: John 4:1-26

Walking in the Light - 1 John 1:5-7

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Purifying Pollution

1 John 1:7 says that "the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."

I've been thinking a lot this week about the cleansing of Jesus' blood and the roots on this notion in the Mosaic law.

Roy Gane, in his work Cult and Character, draws out some of the importance of purification in the Levitical system. “By bringing together the views of sin as legal wrong and sin as pollution, the Israelite ritual system addressed not only the legal standing of YHWH’s people but also their moral state. It showed the way not only to freedom from condemnation, but also to development of healthy character. We will find the climax of this combination in observances of the Day of Atonement, which affirmed freedom from condemnation for those of loyal character (Lev 16:29-31). In the process, the great Day affirmed the just character of Israel’s divine King” (162). This fits with Herman Bavinck's description of sin, “Guilt and pollution always go together as the two inseparable sides of sin” (Reformed Dogmatics: Sin, Salvation, and Christ, Vol 3: 174).

Gane goes on, “It is clear why the covenant and priestly ordination sacrifices include application of  blood to persons. In these cases the blood is also applied to an altar of YHWH. Thus the rituals establish a blood connection, with life or death consequences, between the human parties and YHWH” (164).

“Only tajx sacrifices have privative nm + evil in their rpk goal formulas. So…only a purification offering accomplishes purgation of evil. The ritual complex for the formerly scale-diseased person is particularly instructive: of the three animal sacrifices that effect rpk for (l[) him (i.e. reparation, purification, and burnt offerings), only the purification offering accomplishes purgation Atam.jumi, “from his impurity.” ‘Here then is incontrovertible proof that the hatta’t decontaminates, purifies, and must be rendered ‘purification offering,’…and the verb kipper in this context has the specific meaning of ‘purge.’” (165, citing Milgrom).

Later, he writes, “A purification offering can remedy a state of severe physical ritual impurity (Lev 12:6-8; 14:19, 22, 31, 15, 30, etc.), contradiction of which is permitted by purification from which is required before contact with sacred objects or areas, in order to safeguard the boundaries of holiness connected with the Presence of YHWH at the sanctuary (e.g., 7:20-21; cf. 15:31). Such impurity is a category belonging to a conceptual system and should not be confused with ordinary dirtiness or literal pathological conditions encountered in the practice of medicine, which are subject to mundane constraints of cause and effect that operate in the material world.

“A [hatta’t] sacrifice providing [kipper] for physical ritual impurity results in physical ritual purity ([thr]). Forgiveness ([slch]) is not needed, because contracting a bodily impurity does not, by itself, constitute a moral fault. However, inexpiable wanton failure or expiable inadvertent failure to follow YHWH’s commands regarding bodily impurities, whether by contracting an impurity that he prohibits…,contacting something holy while in a state of impurity…, or failing to undergo timely ritual purification…, is moral fault.

“Physical ritual impurities are not moral evils….

“D. P. Wright demonstrates that, although terms for moral faults are not used with reference to bodily impurities, these categories appear to have closer connections than we would expect.

“In what appears to be diverse categories of evil, whether causing them is tolerated or prohibited, Wright finds a spectrum of impurity that ‘comprehends all adverse conditions or actions, unintended or intended, that are deleterious to what is holy….If all these conditions or actions are not sins, they all are at least a threat to what is holy and hence must either be, when serious, avoided, or when less grave, controlled. For the Priestly writer [namely Moses-JDP], all the defilement-creating conditions were of the same conceptual family.’ Thus Wright’s taxonomy of evils sensitively recognizes commonality between categories while acknowledging differences between them. N. Kiuchi’s approach is also well-balanced: while he finds a clear distinction between [hatta’t], ‘sin,’ and physical ritual impurity, he concludes that these categories are not incompatible with each other. A [hatta’t] ‘is a kind of uncleanness, produced on a dimension different from that of natural uncleanness.’ Therefore, ‘there is no essential distinction between purification and expiation’” (198-200).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Suppers that Separate

Calvin criticized monasticism for many failures, but one of his charges could be leveled squarely at that very un-monastic, world-affirming movement known as American evangelicalism.

The facts themselves tell us that all those who enter into the monastic community break with the church.

That's a surprising charge to make against monks, who would seem to be dedicated to the church catholic. What evidence does he bring forward to substantiate his accusation?

Do they not separate themselves from the lawful society of believers, in adopting a peculiar ministry and a private administration of the sacraments? If this is not to break the communion of the church, what is? (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 4, Chapter 13.14)

Irony of ironies, the most committed Roman Catholics were not catholic, according to Calvin. But how many among us today even understand his criticism?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Come Out of Hiding

When sin pollutes our very being, we hide ourselves, love the darkness, do not dare to show ourselves, and no longer see ourselves as we truly are (Gen 3:8; John 1:5; 3:19, etc.). Conversely, when through Christ, who is the light (John 1:4-5; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35; 2 Cor 4:4), God shines in our hearts and gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:6), we regain the courage to look at ourselves, learn to love the light, and again walk in it (Matt 5:14; John 3:21; Rom 13:12; Eph 5:8; Phil 2:15; 1 Thess 5:5; 1 John 1:7; etc.).

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 2:191-2

Friday, February 14, 2014

God Is Light

While the entire Bible reveals God clearly through his names, actions, descriptions, and images, the Bible rarely makes such direct assertions about the nature of God as we find in 1 John 1:5, "God is light." The God who dwells in unapproachable light, who spoke light into existence and separated it from the darkness, who is himself our light and our salvation, and who calls us out of darkness into his marvelous light, invites us to see him through these words, "God is light." Come with open eyes this Lord's Day as we meet to see his glory.

O Come, All Ye Faithful (88) (note "true God of true God, light of light eternal")
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise (23)
Sun of My Soul (454)
Be Thou My Vision (462)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 16:1-24; Psalm 36
New Testament: John 3:22-36

God Is Light - 1 John 1:5

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Send Out Your Light

"God is light," 1 John 1:5 says. In preparation for our sermon this Lord's Day, let's think a little bit about light in the Old Testament, particularly Psalms and Isaiah.

The Psalms poetically develop many connections between God and the imagery of light. Psa 4:6 draws on the Aaronic benediction (Num 6:24-26) to ask, “Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” Psa 18:28 speaks of the Lord lighting my lamp and lightening my darkness. Psa 27:1 says that the Lord is “my light and my salvation” (cf. Micah 7:8). Psa 36:9 has the absolutely fascinating statement, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” Kidner says that “Light, here, mainly suggests joy (cf. 4:6f.; Esth. 8:16; contrast Ps.38:10), though it cannot be isolated from its other connotations of purity, clarity and truth” (Psalms 1-72, 165). Gerald Wilson comments, “It is possible once again to find connections between God’s light and both creation and eschatological imagery” (pointing to both Gen 1:1-5 and Rev 21:23-24). He continues, “The light of divine illumination opens the eyes of the psalmist and those who follow his lead to the amazing abundance of Yahweh’s life-giving love, which eludes the blind and ignorant wicked” (NIV Application Commentary: Psalms Volume 1, 594).

Psa 43:3 associates light and truth, “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!” Psa 56:13 speaks of walking before God “in the light of life.” Psa 89:15 pronounces a blessing upon the people who walk in the light of the Lord’s face. Psa 104:2 says that the Lord covers himself with light as with a garment (cf. 1 Tim 6:16).

The Psalms make ethical connections with light, such as in Psa 37:6, “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” Psa 97:11 reads, “Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.” Famously, 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path,” while 119:130 says, “The unfolding of your words give light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” [This brief sampling omits all related images, such as Psa 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield.”]

Light is quite prominent in the prophet Isaiah. In 2:5, in hope of the coming kingdom, Isaiah cries, “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord” (for a comparison of similar ideas, see Psa 56:13; 89:15). The implications of light are connected with good and evil in 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” In 9:2 [Heb 9:1], that beautiful prophecy of the Messiah and his kingdom, cited in Matt 4:16, we read, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” Oswalt comments, “Throughout the Bible, God’s presence is equated with light (42:16; 2 Sam 22:29; Job 29:3; Ps 139:11, 12; 1 John 1:5)” (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1-39, 242). 30:26 describes the day of the Lord’s restoration of his people as a day of tremendous, sevenfold light. In 42:6, the Lord gives his servant as “a covenant for the people, a light for the nations.” Godly Simeon harkened back to this text when he saw the baby Jesus (Luke 2:32). In 45:7, the Lord identifies himself as the one who “forms light.” 49:6 is much like 42:6, yet I want to highlight here the connection between “light” and “salvation.” This text is cited in Acts 13:47 as Paul and Barnabas spoke in Antioch of Pisidia. 51:4 speaks of the Lord’s justice as a “light to the peoples,” paralleling “righteousness” and “salvation” in 51:5 (interestingly, the LXX adds “light” into this verse).[1] 58:8, 10 speak of light coming for those who repent and seek the Lord, while 59:9 says that Israel’s wickedness has cut her off from God’s light: “Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.” Light imagery in Isaiah comes to its glorious climax in chapter 60 (cf. back to 2:5). “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (60:1). The Lord’s glory is parallel with light. In v. 2 the glory of the Lord is equated with the Lord himself arising upon you, and thus his glory “will be seen upon you” (somewhat reminiscent of the plague of darkness in Egypt when Israel had light). And because the Lord’s glory is seen upon his people, his light becomes their light. “And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” “Brightness” (Hg:nO) has many of the same connotations in the OT as “light.”

So we see that “light” occurs in a constellation of ideas with God, God’s face, God’s presence, life, good, righteousness, truth, understanding, joy, salvation, justice, and the glory of the Lord. All of these find their consummation in the eschatological context of the kingdom of God.

When John says, "God is light," it sets off explosions of truth all over the place.

[1] Speaking of the LXX, Isaiah 53:11 is an interesting text. It paraphrases the Hebrew and incorporates “light” imagery even though “light” is not in the original. Moises Silva translates it in the NETS as “And the Lord wishes to take away from the pain of his soul, to show him light and fill him with understanding, to justify a righteous one who is well subject to many, and he himself shall bear their sins.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Essential Nature of True Christian Experience Based on the True Nature of God

Since we have started into our sermon series on 1 John, you might want to review the little overview we did in our seminar on New Testament biblical theology in 2013. Here is a little excerpt from those notes.

These three letters are among the shortest in the NT, but they are deeply personal and pastoral. I. Howard Marshall writes of the first letter, “John has not written it according to a neat plan; attempts to get a tidy, three-point sermon out of 1 John are misguided. He conducts a tour through his subject, pausing at the points that interest him, returning to areas of interest, seeing familiar objects from different angles, and yet all the time progressing toward a conclusion. His starting place is firm and solid: it is the Word of life, the revelation of God in Jesus (1:1-4). His goal is clear: it is the possibility of fellowship between men and God through Jesus Christ, his Son” (The Epistles of John, 5).

And so the personal is deeply theological. These little letters give us, not abstract doctrines, but the essential nature of true Christian experience based on the true nature of God (1:5). It is life suffused with God, full of light and truth and love. This then also serves to expose those who falsely claim to know God. Those who do not walk in light, love, and truth do not know him. But John’s purposes are essentially positive: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (5:13). John brings together all the truths about the triune God and our relationship with him to demonstrate what true Christianity is.

Robert Yarbrough gives an excellent summation of the three-fold perspective that John gives on the Christian life:
“Life in the Son grows out of right belief, but not right belief alone. It extends to obedient behavior too. But correct behavior, even combined with high orthodoxy, can be overrated. Who has not encountered the doctrinaire, morally scrupulous, but hate-filled self-confessed follower of Jesus? Something is missing. First John in particular puts a finger on it (see also 2 John 1, 5-6; 3 John 1, 6). True godliness in John’s conception consists of a third integral element: deep-rooted devotion of the heart to God. This is love. It changes not only our regard for God but also for people” (1-3 John, 25-6).
We might call these three perspectives orthodoxy (right doctrine or belief), orthopraxy (right practice or obedience), and orthopathy (right affections or love). Let’s look further at these three perspectives.

A lexicon defines truth with terms like “(1) the quality of being in accord with what is true, dependability, uprightness; (2) the content of what is true; (3) an actual event or state, reality.” Yet when we look at the way John uses the concepts of truth, we find something much more alive. Yarbrough has broken down John’s use of truth into the following categories:
·         “Truth is possessed and imparted by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20), who is truth (4:6; 5:6; 3 John 12; cf. John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13a).
·         “Truth refers to the ethical standards that God has established for his people as expressed in his commandments (1 John 1:6: 2:21a; 3:18; 2 John 4; 3 John 3b, 4; cf. ‘doing the truth’ in John 3:21; also 8:32; 14:15, 23; 15:10, 14).
·         “Truth is God’s revealed and personal sanctifying presence that gives the believer the capacity to reflect God’s character traits, like love and aversion to sin (1 John 1:8; 2:4, 21b; cf. John 1:14, 17; 4:23-24; 8:32; 16:7; 17:17a, 19).
·         “Truth refers to the quality of conformity to the way things are in God’s omniscient wisdom (1 John 2:8; cf. John 5:33; 8:40, 44a, 45, 46).
·         “Truth refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ, its implications, and the sphere of eternal life into which the gospel ushers those who embrace it (1 John 3:19; 2 John 1b, 2, 3; 3 John 1, 8; cf. John 14:6; 16:13b; 17:17b; 18:37a)” (1-3 John, 335-6).[1]
Truth is inseparable from God, his plan, his providence, and his communication of himself to his creatures. That is why John stresses the relationship of abiding in order to know the truth (John 8:31-32). Truth must be walked in (2 John 4, 6; 3 John 4). Furthermore, the truth about Jesus Christ must be believed if one is to have a relationship with God (1 John 2:22-23; 4:1-6, 15; 5:1; 2 John 7). But thankfully, truth can be known (1 John 5:13-15, 18-20 uses this term 7 times).

God is light, which is his moral purity and excellence. Those who are in fellowship with him must therefore be morally pure and ethically excellent. They must walk in the light (1:7). John clearly states that he writes “these things to you so that you may not sin” (2:1).
·         Keep his commandments (2:3-6; 3:24; 5:2; 2 John 6)
·         Practice righteousness (2:29; 3:4-10)
·         Yet John is clear that the foundation for this righteousness is the blood of Jesus, God’s Son (1:7; 2:1-2)

The centrality of love in John’s letters is immediately obvious. Love language permeates virtually everything John says. The verb for love (agapao) is found 31 times, and its corresponding noun (agape) shows up 21 times. From what we have already considered above, it is not surprising that they are often used in conjunction with “commandments” (1 John 3:23; 4:21; 5:2, 3; 2 John 5, 6).
·         The love of the believer is itself a manifestation of the fellowship of which John speaks. It is the love of God in the believer which moves him to keep God’s word (1 John 2:5).
·         The one who loves his brother abides in the light (2:10).
·         The believer is not to love (set his affections on) the passing world order which rejects God’s redemptive rule. Those who do love the world demonstrate that they have no love for the Father (2:15).
·         The Father has given us his love to make us his children (3:1) through the death of Jesus for us (3:16). If we do not love, it is obvious that we are not of God (3:10). The very nature of God requires the command to love, and those who love their brothers give great evidence that God’s love abides in them (3:11-24). This God-like love is a love that lays down its life for others (3:16-18).
·         These themes are fleshed out and reiterated by John in 4:7-12, 16, 18-21; 5:1-3; 2 John 5-6.
·         Love links with truth and obedience (2 John 1-6).

[1]I believe these descriptions fit well with the observations of a couple systematic theologians. John Frame writes, “Wisdom and truth, like knowledge, are given by God’s grace and in the deepest senses of the terms, involve obedience and intimate, personal involvement between Creator and creature” (The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 49). Rolland McCune says, “As the self-contained, self-consistent Ontological Trinity, God is the source of all truth….This foundational aspect of God’s attribute of truth is the basis of a truly Christian philosophy of truth. That is, truth is that which corresponds to the being and will of the God of truth. Any so-called truth or fact attains truthfulness, factuality, or intelligibility because each is in essence a theistic fact, being true because of its place in the eternal counsel of the God of all truth” (A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity: Volume One, 254-5).

Friday, February 07, 2014

Debating More than Christian Rap

If you have not been following the ongoing discussion between Shai Linne and Scott Aniol over at, you really should. It's not just about Christian rap. For example, the latest exchange delves into the issue of subjectivity in our judgments and applications of God's Word.

The introduction to the series is here, and from there you can navigate to all of the posts.

Confidence in the Right Guide

Before ascending to the high mountains of the knowledge of God that the first letter of John calls us to, we need to make sure our base camp is well-stocked for the journey and that we are confident in our guide. The purpose of our sermon this Lord's Day is to fasten your confidence securely to God's revelation of himself in his word. This is the sure guide we need as we pursue the joy of fellowship with God.

[Due to our last minute changes last week, our songs will be the same as what was originally posted for last week's service.]

O Father, Thou Whose Love Profound (29)
Psalm 119f
How Firm a Foundation (610)
The Name High Over All (31)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 15:21; Psalm 32
New Testament: John 2:13-25

Knowing God through His Word - 1 John 1:1-4

Friday, January 31, 2014

It's a God Thing

"It's a God thing," many people will say when something unusual or unexpectedly good happens in their life. It is an attempt, sometimes sincere, to acknowledge that God has something or other to do with the events of our lives, especially when those events are beyond our knowledge or control. It may be a step up from "It's my lucky day."

But if my experience is any guide, the expression "It's a God thing" typically comes from the lips of those who have very little, if any, acquaintance with true God. The expression itself is perfectly ignorant, void of defining content, and capable of being filled with any "god" or "thing" that you wish. It is sometimes used to prevent any further inquiry into the subject, as if being a "god thing" means that it is beyond the realm of our knowledge and it wouldn't do any good to ask questions anyway.

But beyond this, the expression seems to be used in conjunction with a persistent belief that God's presence is manifested most clearly in unusual or unexpected events. If something really unusual happened, then God must be in it. The divine has just touched our lives personally. It gives us goosebumps just thinking about it. But more seriously, we begin to place a great deal of weight on these kinds of experiences, as if they gave us a true knowledge of God. We begin to feel that we must have a good relationship with God if we experience a number of these "god things."

There is just one small problem with these "god things." God never said that he would bring you to know him that way. It is true that throughout history God has done wonderful works, works that make us wonder in amazement. But these things have no power to bring us to the true knowledge of God, for they do not deal with what separates us from God.

In order to come to the joy of knowing the true God, you need to know him as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. The God-man Jesus, who actually,historically lived a sinless life, died as a substitute for sinners, and rose from the dead, is the bedrock for knowing the true God. Furthermore, the knowledge of Jesus comes to us through the writings of apostles who were eye-witnesses of his majesty. In short, you need the Bible if you are to have the full joy of having fellowship with the true God.

Forget your "god things," and rest in the Word of God. Join us this Lord's Day as we consider having fellowship with God through his Word.

O Father, Thou Whose Love Profound (29)
Psalm 119f
How Firm a Foundation (610)
The Name High Over All (31)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 15:21; Psalm 32
New Testament: John 2:13-25

Knowing God through His Word - 1 John 1:1-4

Friday, January 24, 2014

Partnership in Eternal Life

The Holy Spirit gave us the first letter of John so that we would have partnership with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. There is a world of life and joy in that statement. We are going to savor it this Lord's Day. Join us as we come to know the eternal life we have, which is Jesus Christ.

Our Great Savior (434)
Psalm 15a
Psalm 23b
Be Thou My Vision (462)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 14:26-45; Psalm 23
New Testament: John 2:1-12

Knowing You Have Eternal Life; Knowing You Have the True God - 1 John 1:1-4; 5:6-20

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Your Face, Lord, Do I Seek

O Lord my God, my one hope, listen to me lest out of weariness I should stop wanting to seek you, but let me seek your face always, and with ardor. Do you yourself give me the strength to seek, having caused yourself to be found and having given me the hope of finding you more and more….Let me remember you, let me understand you, let me love you. Increase these things in me until you refashion me entirely.
Augustine, The Trinity

Friday, January 17, 2014

Seeking Joy

In the Lord's wisdom, I was not able to preach last Lord's Day. (And many thanks to Jon for stepping in at the last minute.) Therefore, our text will be the same as I posted last week - 1 John 1:1-4. We look forward to meeting and hearing the Word of Life so that our joy may be complete in 2014 and forever.

All Creatures of Our God and King (59)
Tell Me the Story of Jesus (121)
Psalm 110A
Psalm 100

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 14:1-25; Psalm 13
New Testament: John 1:35-51

Proclaiming the Word of Life - 1 John 1:1-4

Friday, January 10, 2014

Proclaiming Eternal Life

Simple words. Deep truth. Stunning impact.That's the way I feel after wrestling with the first epistle of John this week. Pray that we will know the Word of life this Lord's Day as we meet. Pray that the proclamation of that which was from the beginning will lead us to fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, so that our joy will reach its pure and high completion.

Holy, Holy, Holy (3)
Let Us Love (483)
Salvation! O My Soul Rejoice! (298)
Glory Be to God the Father (72)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 13:25-33; Psalm 9
New Testament: John 1:19-34

Proclaiming the Word of Life - 1 John 1:1-4

Friday, January 03, 2014

The Good Life in 2014 and Beyond

At the beginning of a new year, promises of the good life are as thick as snowflakes in a blizzard. But when the sun beats on those promises, they melt away. It turns out that Apple, or Aristotle, or your boyfriend, or the Broncos, or Obamacare, or you-name-it, cannot give you the good life. It also turns out that the Lord told us a long time ago where to find the good life. It is a life he calls "blessed," and it is the life we will look for as we open the new year with a sermon from Psalm 1. Join us!

O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing (#69)
Rejoice! the Lord Is King (13)
Psalm 1
How Good Is the God We Adore (738)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Numbers 13:1-24; Psalm 1
New Testament: John 1:1-18

Blessed - Psalm 1