Friday, July 17, 2015

Calvin on The Great Exchange

From Calvin's 1541 French edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion comes this tasty morsel:
We clearly see how people are devoid and stripped of all good, and how they lack all that pertains to their salvation. That is why, if a person wants something to help him in his need, he must go outside himself and seek his help elsewhere. . . . Our Lord presents Himself freely to us in His Son Jesus Christ, offering us in Him all happiness in place of our misery, all abundance in place of our poverty, and opening to us in Him all His heavenly treasures and riches so that all our faith may look to His very dear Son, all our expectation may be in Him, and all our hope may rest on him. This is a secret, a hidden philosophy which cannot be understood by syllogisms; but those people understand it whose eyes our Lord has opened in order that in His light they may see clearly. We are taught by faith to know that all the good we need and which we lack in ourselves is in God and in His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the Father has established all the fullness of His blessings and abundance so that we may draw everything from there as from a very full fountain. Now it remains for us to see in Him and, by prayers, ask from Him what we have learned is there. For otherwise to know God as the Master, Author, and Giver of all good who invites us to ask them from Him, and for us not to address Him, not to ask anything from Him, would not benefit us at all. It would be as if someone disdained and left buried and hidden under the earth a treasure about which he had been told."

Friday, July 10, 2015

John the Baptist and Lawful Marriage

It been years since I preached from the lectionary, but I can't help but notice that this week's lectionary text from the gospel of Mark is about the beheading of John the Baptist. The text is Mark 6:14-29.

One of the crucial exegetical questions that comes from this text is this: Why did Herod imprison John? The text gives a straightforward answer:
For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly. (Mark 6:17-20 ESV)
Herod was of a divided mind about John. He "heard John gladly," but whenever he heard him, he was "greatly perplexed," no doubt because John kept bringing up the matter of Herod's illegitimate marriage to his brother Philip's wife, Herodias. Why was the marriage illegitimate? Such marriages were a violation of the Old Testament law, specifically Leviticus 18:16:
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother's wife; it is your brother's nakedness.
And also Leviticus 20:21
If a man takes his brother's wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.
So the marriage to Herodias wasn't a lawful marriage.

Another interesting fact in this text is that Herod Antipas wasn't actually a Jew. Even so, John tells Herod that he has violated the moral law of the Old Testament. Because Herod was the titular leader of the Jewish people, and was already disliked because he wasn't a Jew himself, the imprisonment of John served the political end of silencing a very unhelpful critic.

So what is the takeaway here? It is this: John the Baptist was imprisoned and killed for preaching what God's Word says about real marriage.

And why is this important today, Christian? You know why. The faithful preaching of God's Word can be costly. It starts with fines and gag orders and goes from there. But take heart! Jesus has overcome the world, and your inheritance is awaiting.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Tragic Refutation

The real tragedy of this tweet is that apparently enough people assumed such a project to be possible that the suggestion had to be publicly refuted.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Morning Light

Overnight we received about 4" of snow. Temp this morning was -4. Decided to enjoy an invigorating walk through the frozen tundra to the church study. Got all the way here. Reached into my pocket. No keys.

Thursday, January 01, 2015


I recently did a simple search of the bible on the two words “joy” and “God.” Here is an excerpt of the results:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! - Psalm 68:3

...yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. - Habakkuk 3:18

My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. - Psalm 84:2

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. - Romans 14:7

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. - Jeremiah 15:16

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. - Romans 15:13

The bible makes the huge point throughout that our joy is made complete in God, and that in order to maximize the joy we all desire in our hearts, we need to be in pursuit of the only Being in the universe that can fulfill that joy. Jesus Christ came to save sinners and to grant to them the fullness of joy in God. He said this to His disciples:

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. - John 15:10-11

The old Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes this well:

Q1 What is Man’s chief end? A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. - Westminster Shorter Catechism

In light of the overwhelming witness of the Bible, perhaps you would join with me in the making the following resolution.

RESOLVED: To enjoy God as much as possible in the years to come!

As John Piper puts it: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Happy New Year!

Do I dare start this thing up again? Sure! Why not? Full speed ahead!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Listening to God's Word

photo credit: <a href="">Findo</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

A wonderful quote from Mark Galli at Christianity Today:
Whenever the Bible is read, a hush should come over us. We should be inching toward the edge of our seats, leaning forward, turning our best ear toward the speaker, fearful we'll miss a single word—the deeds and words and character of Almighty and Merciful God are being revealed! In a world of suffering and pain, of doubt and despair, of questions about the meaning and purpose of existence, we are about to hear of God's glory, forgiveness, mercy and love, of his intention for the world, of his promise to make it all good in the end, of the way to join his people, of the means to abide with him forever! And there we sit, tapping our feet, mentally telling the preacher to get on with it.
photo credit: Findo via photopin cc