Why should we know God's Word?

In our day and age where anti-intellectualism runs rampant in the visible church, it is not surprising to see poll after poll verify what students of scripture have known for many years. The visible church does not know much about the scriptures they profess to believe in. This is sad considering many saints during the Reformation period lost their lives for the sake of being able to read and study God's word. Not to mention the many passages in scripture that speak as such:

Isaiah 66:2 This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
John 8:31-32 Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Psalm 19:7-8 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
Psalm 119:11 I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
Psalm 119:162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.

The posts on this blog will address essential Biblical doctrines of the Christian faith. You can find much of the background for the posts here. My prayer for these posts is that the people who read them will be encouraged to open their Bibles and not just read a verse or two, but learn them and indeed, be transformed by them. As Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17). This is my prayer as well.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Beginning with God puts us into perspective

Do we think much of us? Do we drink the "I am special, wonderful, outstanding" kool-aid the modern day church dispenses? Yes, we are created in God's image and therefore different than animals (as opposed to what evolution teaches). But compared to the holy, eternal, majestic, almighty God we are nothing but dust with a short lease on this earth. The only thing great about us is the amount of sin and rebellion that has poured out from our lives. It was God who was rich in mercy, who sent Jesus to save us through His propitiatory sacrifice on the cross.  God did NOT do this because of anything in us, in fact, we were running away from the holy God as fast as our little legs could take us. Christians are saved only because of God's infinite love toward lowly, wretched creatures who were only deserving of hell. 

"Christians" who disagree with this should examine their own hearts to see if they have truly been born again. If you are having trouble seeing the wretched state of your own soul, John Calvin has a good remedy for such self-righteousness. It's worth the time to read:

"It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself. For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also —He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced. For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself. And since nothing appears within us or around us that is not tainted with very great impurity, so long as we keep our mind within the confines of human pollution, anything which is in some small degree less defiled delights us as if it were most pure just as an eye, to which nothing but black had been previously presented, deems an object of a whitish, or even of a brownish hue, to be perfectly white. Nay, the bodily sense may furnish a still stronger illustration of the extent to which we are deluded in estimating the powers of the mind. If, at mid-day, we either look down to the ground, or on the surrounding objects which lie open to our view, we think ourselves endued with a very strong and piercing eyesight; but when we look up to the sun, and gaze at it unveiled, the sight which did excellently well for the earth is instantly so dazzled and confounded by the refulgence, as to oblige us to confess that our acuteness in discerning terrestrial objects is mere dimness when applied to the sun. Thus too, it happens in estimating our spiritual qualities. 

So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Be killing sin or it will be killing you"

That phrase is taken from John Owen's classic work, "The Mortification of Sin." Mortification means to put to death, and foundational to his book is Romans 8:13 - "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."

John Owen was an ardent defender of justification by faith alone, but he was also passionate for holiness and communion with God and realized that sin was the greatest problem to these. As he said himself: "Sin sets its strength against every act of holiness, and against every degree we grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who does not kill sin in this way takes no steps towards his journey’s end." John Owen rightly continues on how we should take an aggressive stand against sin since it will be with the believer his whole life. It may not have us enslaved but until Christ returns it always "seduces, entices, fights, rebels" as long as we are on earth. So a man must "keep a diligent watch over his heart, its root and fountain" all the days of his life.

With that in mind, let me give you some ammunition in your battle against sin and fight for joy in the Lord. Here is some excellent advice from John Owen:

"Be much in thoughtfulness of the excellency of the majesty of God and thine infinite, inconceivable distance from him. Many thoughts of it cannot but fill thee with a sense of thine own vileness, which strikes deep at the root of any indwelling sin. When Job comes to a clear discovery of the greatness and the excellency of God, he is filled with self-abhorrence and is pressed to humiliation, Job 42: 5, 6. And in what state does the prophet Habakkuk affirm himself to be cast, upon the apprehension of the majesty of God? chap. 3:16. “With God,” says Job, “is terrible majesty.”  Job 37:22. Hence were the thoughts of them of old, that when they had seen God they should die. The Scripture abounds in this self-abasing consideration, comparing the men of the earth to “grasshoppers,” to “vanity,” the “dust of the balance,” in respect of God.  Isaiah 40:12–25. Be much in thoughts of this nature, to abase the pride of thy heart, and to keep thy soul humble within thee. There is nothing will render thee a greater indisposition to be imposed on by the deceits of sin than such a frame of heart. Think greatly of the greatness of God."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

John 1:1, "the Word was God" - An exegetical study

A little on the technical side, I know, but you never know who might actually be studying this passage or looking to refute the JW's heretical view of this text.

I.                   I want to very briefly hit on the technicalities of this phrase in John 1:1:
a.     “the Word was God.”
                                           i.      First, to clarify the clear meaning of the Greek.
                                        ii.      Second, to refute the erroneous views of Jehovah Witnesses who distort this translation since the Holy Spirit, who is the ultimate author of this verse, was precise in this phrase.
II.                What is the clear meaning of the Greek?
a.     There are two nouns, God (theos) and Word (logos).
                                           i.      Word is the subject because it has a definite article in front of it, and God is the predicate, which modifies the subject because it does not have the definite article. 
b.     In Greek grammar, if there are two nouns in a sentence and one has a definite article and one does not then the one with the definite article is the subject.
                                           i.      If they both had the definite article, it makes them interchangeable.
1.    If that was the case in this verse the John would be equating the Word as the God, or the God as the Word which would be inaccurate.
                                        ii.      This would contradict the previous phrase, “The Word was with God,” which shows the clear nature of the trinity.
c.     Instead, and this is important; God is the predicate, which means it modifies the subject, the Word is of the very essence of God which is perfectly in line with the Trinitarian concept.
                                           i.      This is one of those phrases that Greek scholars will throw out there as reasons for learning Greek.
1.    Because it is worded in such a way in Greek, which is not easy to see in English.
2.    To succinctly illustrate what this is saying, we could paraphrase it, like the New English Bible does…
a.     “What God was, the Word was…”
d.     To quote New Testament scholar DA Carson…
                                           i.      “If John had included the definite article (in front of God, theos), he would have been saying something quite untrue.  He would have been so identifying the Word with God that no divine being could exist from the Word.  In that case, it would be nonsense to say (in the words of the second clause of this verse) that the Word was with God.  The ‘Word does not by Himself make up the entire Godhead; nevertheless the divinity that belongs to the rest of the Godhead belongs also to Him’ (Tasker p 45). “The Word was with God, God’s eternal Fellow; the Word was God, God’s own self.”
1.    That is, Jesus has all the attributes and qualities of God – He is coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit but He is not equal to the entire essence of God.
a.     He is the Son of God, the second person of the trinity.
III.             What about the errors of the JW translation?
a.     First, the way they translate it assumes that theos is NOT referring to the one true God, but to a godlike being.
                                           i.      This is clearly wrong.
1.    John could have used a different Greek adjective, theios, for this purpose.
                                        ii.      Instead, John used theos, and…
1.    Everytime theos is used in this immediate context and in the entire chapter it refers to the only true God.
a.     And John is clearly not advocating polytheism here. 
                                     iii.      He can only be referring to Jesus as God.
b.     Second, they make an obvious error in the grammatical construction.
                                           i.      They claim that just because the definite article is not in front of theos that this proves it should be translated ‘a god.’
1.    But the Greek and the context, again, argue against them.
a.     In essence, God is against them!
                                        ii.      The definite article is not in front of theos in vs 6, 12, 13, 18.
1.    Verses we obviously don’t translate ‘a god.’
a.     In fact, in the entire New Testament, there are 282 occurrences where theos does not have the definite article.
2.    They simply just picked and choose which translation best fits their heresy.
                                     iii.      As opposed to listening to God’s word tell us about Himself.
1.    May God grant all of us ears to hear the Word!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Whoa! Been a while...

since my last post. Hope no one thinks I was overly discouraged because John Piper was wrong. Don't worry, I am not:^) Lord willing, all Christians forsake the "Pope syndrome" of exalting any Christian pastor, author, blogger, conference speaker, etc. as infallible and speaking in ex cathedra. Only God's word is infallible, inerrant and the final authority on all matters of life - not John Piper, me or anyone else. Yes, we are all still sinners in need of God's infinite grace.

With that in mind, here is a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace. My main complaint is that he did not sing the entire song - he begins singing at around the 6:30 mark. I cannot vouch for everything he says about the song itself, but I can vouch for the great joy every Christian will receive from hearing again about God's wondrous, amazing grace!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

John Piper is wrong...

But so are we in so many decisions we make and when Judgment comes, our views on secondary doctrinal issues will probably be shown to be lacking as well. This is not a condemnation of John Piper, but a strong disagreement with him on allowing, IMO, a very destructive man to have a platform at his Desiring God conference: Rick Warren, the author the best selling book. The Purpose Driven Life.

As usual, a number of godly men have responded in a gracious yet truthful manner and I commend their articles to you. They sum up most of my reasons nicely. Remember though, there are no perfect Christians in Christendom, just a perfect Savior. Always be discerning.

Begin with Phil Johnson
Tim Challies
Chris Anderson here and here
Michael Horton and the White Horse Inn have documented a few of the issues with Rick Warren.

John MacArthur succinctly sums up the problem with The Purpose Driven Life:

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A conversation...

Here is a made-up conversation done by a godly man named Horatius Bonar. It is between a Christian and someone who is not a Christian. Even if you are a Christian it is well worth the time to read.

"How shall I be happy?" was the question of a weary soul who had tried a hundred different ways of happiness, and had always failed.

"Secure the favor of God," was the prompt answer, by one who had himself tasted that the "Lord is gracious."

"Is there no other way of being happy?"

"None, none," was the quick and decided reply. "Man has been trying other ways for six thousand years, and has utterly failed, and are you likely to succeed?"

"No, not likely; and I don't want to go on trying. But this favor of God seems such a shadowy thing, and God Himself so far off, that I know not which way to turn."

"God's favor is no shadow; it is real beyond all other realities; and He Himself is the nearest of all near beings, as accessible as He is gracious."

"That favor of which you speak has always seemed to me a sort of mist, of which I can make nothing."

"Say rather it is sunshine which a mist is hiding from you."

"Yes, yes, I believe you; but how shall I get through the mist into the sunshine beyond? It seems so difficult and to require such a length of time!"

"You make that distant and difficult which God has made simple and near and easy."

"Are there no difficulties, do you mean to say?"
"In one sense, a thousand; in another, none."
"How is that?"

"Did the Son of God put difficulties in the sinner's way when He said to the multitude, 'Come unto Me, and I will give you rest'?"

"Certainly not; He meant them to go at once to Him, as He stood there, and as they stood there, and He would give them rest."

"Had you then been upon the spot, what difficulties should you have found?"

"None, certainly; to speak of difficulty when I was standing by the side of the Son of God would have been folly, or worse."

"Did the Son of God suggest difficulty to the sinner when He sat on Jacob's well, by the side of the Samaritan? Was not all difficulty anticipated or put away by these wondrous words of Christ, 'thou wouldst have asked, and I would have given'?"

"Yes, no doubt; the asking and the giving was all. The whole transaction is finished on the spot. Time and space, distance and difficulty, have nothing to do with the matter; the giving was to follow the asking as a matter of course. So far all is plain. But I would ask: Is there no barrier here?"

"None whatever, if the Son of God really came to save the lost; if He came for those who were only partly lost, or who could partly save themselves, the barrier is infinite. This I admit; nay, insist upon."

"Is the being lost, then, no barrier to our being saved?"

"Foolish question, which may be met by a foolish answer. Is your being thirsty a hindrance to your getting water or is being poor a hindrance to your obtaining riches as a gift from a friend?"

"True; it is my thirst that fits me for the water and my poverty that fits me for the gold."

"Ah, yes, the Son of Man came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. If you be not wholly a sinner, there is a barrier; if you be wholly such, there is none!"

"Wholly a sinner! Is that really my character?"

"No doubt of that. If you doubt it, go and search your Bible. God's testimony is that you are wholly a sinner, and must deal with Him as such, for the whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."

"Wholly a sinner, well!--but must I not get quit of some of my sins before I can expect blessing from Him?"

"No, indeed; He alone can deliver you from so much as even one sin; and you must go at once to Him with all that you have of evil, how much so ever that may be. If you be not wholly a sinner, you don't wholly need Christ, for He is out and out a Saviour; He does not help you to save yourself, nor do you help Him to save you. He does all, or nothing. A half salvation will only do for those who are not completely lost. He 'His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.' " (1 Peter 2:24)

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Two resurrection songs

These songs speak for themselves. Our response should be one of awe and adoration and praise unto our risen Savior!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Resurrection thoughts

Here are some thoughts on the resurrection taken from the scriptures. They are divided into 3 sets: the first may be considered an apologetic for Christianity, the second for unbelievers though believers can rejoice in them, and the third are specifically for believers. If you visit this blog and truly trust in Christ alone for your salvation, I'd encourage you to read them all, but especially the promises made to believers and be in awe of what Christ has accomplished.

Jesus Christ physically rose again therefore…
Jesus is proven to be the Son of God (Rom 1:4).
Jesus is preeminent over all things (Col 1:18)
Jesus will return again to judge the living & the dead (Acts 1:11, 17:31; 1 Peter 4:3-5)
Jesus’ words are shown to be fully trustworthy, also proving the truthfulness of the OT & NT scriptures since He testified to the former & promised the Holy Spirit to inspire the latter..

Jesus Christ physically rose again therefore ANYONE who believes in Him (entrust your life to Him in repentance & faith) He promises forgiveness of all your sins (Acts 5:30-31) & a perfect standing before a holy & just God (Rom 4:24-25; 10:9-11; 1 Peter 3:18). This resurrection promise requires you to repudiate ALL your good works, your so-called goodness & anything else you can pretty much think of that makes you think God will accept you into heaven. There’s nothing you can do except turn from all manner of works & trust only in Jesus Christ. If you trust in Christ alone, then you can claim the blessed promises the resurrection gives to believers: Eternal life, forgiveness of all sins, righteous standing before God, the Holy Spirit, joy in the Lord.

Specifically for those who truly & wholly believe in Christ: because Christ physically rose again...
We have the assurance of no condemnation (Romans 8:34)
We have an anchor for our faith & hope in God (1 Peter 1:20-21)
We are granted new life through our union with Christ (Romans 6:4-5)
We have the Helper, the Holy Spirit dwelling within (John 14:16-18)
We are given new life so we will bear fruit for God (Romans 7:4-6 & 8:11)
We have an eternal dwelling in glory (John 14:3).
Death has been forever defeated. Though we die, we WILL rise again to live eternally with Him (1 Thess 4:14; John 11:25-26, 1 Cor 15:53-55).
We will receive new & glorious bodies in the final resurrection (1 Cor 15:42-50).
We will forever sing of our risen Saviour, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power & wealth & wisdom & might & honor & glory & blessing!” (Rev 5:12, 22:3-5).

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:57-58)

Friday, April 02, 2010

Why God is worthy of attention

"It has been said by some one that 'the proper study of mankind is man.' I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God's elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, "Behold I am wise." But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild donkey's colt; and with the solemn exclamation, "I am but of yesterday, and know nothing." No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. We shall be obliged to feel— 'Great God, how infinite art thou, what worthless worms are we!'" Charles Spurgeon