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Archive for the ‘Preaching’ Category

I just read a fun and insightful little post from Pastor Toby Sumpter. He touches on various issues surrounding finitude, sound bites, Jesus, and Twitter. I recommend you give it a read.

As I’ve been preaching through Mark in our services in Scappoose, OR, I’ve been taken aback by how controversial Jesus’ early ministry was. From the stuff that’s fairly obvious to the casual reader (say, casting our screaming demons who know him by name) to a handful of things that don’t quite jump off the page at us. For example, Jesus touched a woman what wasn’t family (Peter’s mother-in-law), who might well have been unclean, he healed on the Sabbath, and he even made physical contact with a leper to heal him. These actions (all of them recorded before we even hit the second chapter!) really are quite scandalous by the standards of Jesus’ day.

While Jesus (like John before him) was anything but a stuffed-shirt preacher, he wasn’t controversial just for the sake of being so. He wasn’t edgy just to be cool. The scandal in Jesus’ ministry was tied in with the fact that he opposed the traditions of men. Not just any traditions, but the ones that needed to be KO’d. Many of these traditions were chewing up and spitting out God’s people, and Jesus came out swingin’. That sort of bold truth-telling will always be controversial. Humans are apt to build traditions; these aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, they can be quite good. But when they run counter to God’s law, but especially when they’re used to strangle God’s people, they need to be exposed and destroyed. That is and always will be controversial work, which work will always be violently opposed by those sons of hell who prefer the traditions of men to the Word of God.

 

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I am delighted to see that my pastor from the Olympia Bible Presbyterian Church, Tito Lyro, has begun to post on his blog. He has a pithy little ditty on Aaron Rodgers, Tim Tebow, and Francis of Assisi. Go give that a look-see.

Crazy Preacher Man

Having read Pastor Tito’s post, it occurred to me that Jesus, too, used words to preach the gospel. Mark 1:14-5 says, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” Mark says that Jesus was “proclaiming” the gospel. This means that he preached, and to do so, he must have used words. In fact, Mark summarizes his words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Do note that Jesus didn’t come groovin’ up slowly into Galilee and put out the gospel vibe. He didn’t just stand around and exude the good news. He spoke it, preached it, proclaimed and heralded it.

If it can be said of anyone that they lived righteously before men, it can be said of Jesus. He, after all, was (and is!) without sin (2 Cor 5:21). Yet even the perfect life of Jesus Christ is not enough to “preach the gospel,” for preaching the gospel takes words. God gave you a mouth… use it.

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Heidelberg Catechism #42

Q: Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?

A: Our death does not pay the debt of our sins. Rather, it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.

Theological: Christians still die… why? First thing is that Christ has transformed EVERYTHING for Christians. Death is something. Ergo, Christ has transformed death for Christians. Death, for the Christian, might be unknown, and, to that degree, might be scary. Death is not, however, a punishment for the Christian. Death IS a punishment for those outside of Christ. One gets the impression that death for the Christian (that is, when it actually happens) is actually a pleasure. Without doubt, it’s certainly a portal to eternal pleasure. After all, at Yahweh’s right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps 16:11).  Death is an entrance into those pleasures. The saint will live in those pleasures until the resurrection, when those pleasures will be perfected. Similarly (or maybe conversely), for those outside of Christ, death is punishment and an entrance into eternal punishment, which will be perfected at the resurrection. Christ has removed the sting of death (1 Cor 15), but not its use as a major point of transition.

Practical: You know, everyone’s gotta die… at least for the most part. There will be one generation that doesn’t have to, but, aside from them, we all face death. Steve Job’s comments about death are interesting, but seem flat when compared with eternal joys or punishment. You can see Steve’s full speech here. People outside of Christ should be horrified by death. Typically they are. Sometimes, however, they are act as if they don’t care, or that it doesn’t bother them. These folks are either simply lying (to themselves and/or to others) or are deluded. Death, therefore, is an evangelistic tool… use it. Preach it. Speak about it. If folks accuse you of being morbid, tell them you only speak of death in order to draw attention to the eternal life found only in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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Heidelberg Catechism #43

Q. What further advantage do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?

A. Through Christ’s death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us, but that instead we may dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to him.

Theological: Romans 6 (among other passages) teaches us that we were buried with Christ in baptism. The blessings of that baptism are received by faith (more…)

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What's the Problem?

With all the hubbub surrounding the atonement of late, some comments have surfaced that are quite interesting as to what people think Calvinists think (and say). These comments are telling, as some of them indicate that Calvinism’s being opposed, but  not fully understood. (That, by the way, is a VERY important point, as “Ready! Fire! Aim!” is not the best method.) One of my friends (a genuinely intelligent, well read, and well-intentioned brother in Christ) made this comment:

So once again “everyone who believes” is justified. Reminds me of John’s gospel saying “whosoever will”. Funny how these phrases keep popping up in regard to the unlimited extent of the atonement.

Now, of course it is a non sequitur to think that “whosoever will” implies an “unlimited extent” to the atonement. (more…)

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I’ve seen many reactions to the death of Osama flying around the web and on Facebook. Some of them are distasteful and some are simply misguided. In the midst of it all, one or two questions popped into my mind. How does God view the death of his enemies, especially the leaders of his enemies? What are we to say and preach about these things?

In relation to the death of God’s enemies, two Messianic Psalms come to mind – Pss 2 and 110. These Psalms present Yahweh as laughing as his human opposition – holding them in derision. These Psalms present Messiah as conquering his enemies – filling his path with corpses. These rulers (fighting against Yahweh and his Christ) are admonished to bow down, kiss, pay homage to the Son, lest he get angry and cause them to perish. Now, I’ve heard a lot of preaching about Jesus, but I have not heard much of THIS Jesus presented. We’re usually presented with a Jesus who wants to save but cannot (unless we let him), and a Jesus who wants to conquer (maybe), but cannot… Oh, but don’t worry, cuz he conquers in the end… somehow. Contrary to so much “Evangelical” limp-wristed portraits of Jesus, Pss 2 and 110 present us with a conquering Messiah.

Now, here’s a twist: we’re all enemies of God by nature. Some of his enemies (indeed, MANY of them) he conquers by converting them:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Rom 5:6-11

Praise God for that unspeakable grace to undeserving sinners, indeed, enemies! But how are we to understand these two things: one the one hand God crushes his enemies and on the other he reconciles them through the blood of Christ. One thing that stands out to me is that both Pss 2 and 110 make reference to the chiefs and rules of the opposition. While Christ will fill his path with the corpses of ALL of his enemies, the leaders of his enemies are singled out as objects of his wrath.

Osama bin Laden should certainly be viewed as a leader of the opposition to Christ, should he not? Not only was his life one of opposition to God, but he was a leader of those opposed to God. As such, he would be pinpointed as one whom Christ threatens specifically.

So, from a Christian point of view, I think we are to rejoice in the death of Osama bin Laden – a high-handed enemy of Jesus Christ. Christ has gloriously triumphed and we should praise him for that. On the other hand we’re to pray for the bin Laden family, desiring their salvation. We should pray for the utter destruction of Islam and for the conversion of its adherents to Christ. Our message is not just salvation through Jesus Christ, but also the complete destruction of his enemies (especially the leaders of his enemies). These are parts of the message we present.

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Heidelberg Catechism #42

Q. Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?

A. Our death does not pay the debt of our sins. Rather, it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.

Theological: For the believer in Jesus Christ, death is transformed. What used to be a just penalty for sin has become a portal into a fuller version of eternal life. O death, where thy sting? O grave, where thy victory? This, like so much Christian verity, must be approached in faith. (more…)

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