Well, for the first time in several years I had opportunity to attend a “pastors” conference. The conference was Advance09 and it was well worth the wait! This conference was mainly hosted by a couple of local churches in the Raleigh/Durham (go Tarheels!) area but it was “advanced” primarily by the Acts 29 church planting network. The lineup of speakers was solid, as you can see from the website. I was also able to meet up with my good friend Mark and met some friends of his here, here, and here. A good time was had by all.
Mainly for my benefit, but hopefully for yours too, I am going to briefly recap the main thrust of most of the speakers. I won’t go into great detail since that has been done elsewhere and you can hear the complete audio here. Also at advancethechurch.com you can check out the continuing work of this conference with future conferences planned and blog posts and video content. There will be future Advance conferences and events so stay plugged in.
Mark Driscoll - What is the Church?
In the first session Pastor Mark set out some descriptions of what the church is, and along the way he pointed out some historical and culture manifestations of the local church. Specifically he spoke about the individualistic bent the church took and now a days there is an overreaction to this with too much focus on the “gathering”. Mark emphasized that preaching is the most important thing but not the only thing. He admonished the pastors present not to be afraid of the people and not to be a coward and fear man (your members). He also told us to Preach Jesus as He is and will be…BIG, EXALTED, and BIG ENOUGH FOR ANYTHING!
The church is:
- Regenerate Church membership
- Qualified Leadership
- Gathering for preaching and worship
- Sacraments rightly administered (every week?)
- Unified by the Spirit
- Disciplined for holiness
- Obeys the great commandment to love
- Obeys the great commandment to evangelize and reach the nations
There was some more about the Church being
- Scattered & Gathered
- Attractional & Missional
- Preaching should lead everything (small groups, etc.)
- Biblical principles vs. cultural method
Bryan Chapell – Communicating the Gospel through preaching
His notes can be found here. Dr. Chapell is a weill know professor @ Covenant Theological Seminary and the author of some good books on preaching. Dr. Chapell encouraged the pastors to preach a loving but powerful Jesus in every sermon we preach.
Matt Chandler – Preaching the Gospel to the De-churched
We need to get back to the nature and character of God – the fear of God. How do we build confession in our churches? Preach the cross! Make the cross central. Embrace the foolishness of the Gospel. We cannot contextualize the Gospel where everyone likes it.
Ed Stetzer – Keys to Understanding the Church and the Kingdom
Matthew 16 – The church holds the keys to the Kingdom of God. Three things are necessary to be a kingdom focused church:
- Recognize the centrality of Christ (culture may make this harder in the future). Our churches need to be Jesus centered and Spirit led. Make every message about Jesus and not about change. Don’t preach a message void of Jesus though you can still preach practical messages. Make Jesus always the hero. Make the cross a bigger issue than you church.
- Peter’s confession is the foundation of God’s Church. Peter’s declaration of the person of Christ led to Jesus’ declaration of the plan of the Church. Jesus said HE will build HIS church. A nostalgic/naive Calvinism (“all I need is the Bible/Owen/Spurgeon) is not interested in learning from others and is defective. The gates of Hades cannot resist the Advance of the Church.
- The Church is God’s tool for Kingdom Mission. Matt 16:19-20. We need a Kingdom vs. a self focused church…the Church proclaims the Gospel thereforeit holds the keys to the Kingdom.
J.D. Greer – Re-vitalizing a church.
From Matthew 23, 6 timeless characteristics of religion.
- Religious people love recognition and the praise and attention of people
- Religious people substitute religious ritual for a love of God
- Religious people elevate secondary issues over a love for God
- Religious people elevate religious ritual over a love for others
- Religious people are more aware of the sins of others than their own
- Religious people always think others are talking about other people’s sins and not their own
God, please save me and my church from being religious people!
Mark Driscoll – Ministry Idolatry
A lot of pastors suffer from unrepentant idols of the heart:
- Attendance Idolatry
- Gift Idolatry – of your own gifts and others
- Truth Idolatry – education/knowledge
- Fruit Idolatry – success
- Tradition Idolatry
- Method Idolatry
- Office Idolatry – Identity
- Success Idolatry – is winning or out-performing your idol?
- Ministry Idolatry – wanting the position too badly
- Innovation Idolatry
- Leader Idolatry
Repent! It is not only what we preach that is important but what we practice.
Danny Aiken – 9 Marks of a Healthy Community of Faith
- Will consistently love each other – volitional/active/working/serving love
- Cares for those in need
- Honors the divine institution of marriage & family
- Unshakable faith in the Providence of God
- Respect those who teach and rule the church. Why should they? Church leaders should: 1. Be faithful to preach and speak the whole Word of God, boldly, clearly, truthfully. 2. Guard your life. 3. Shepherd the flock and love them. This takes time.
- Will not be moved away from Christ centered doctrine
- Spiritual sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, and service
- Cultivate a ministry of prayer for its leaders – encourage your people to pray for you
- Will look to the Lord Jesus as their good shepherd who will be faithful to make them complete in every good work.
That is about all I have. Again, I encourage you to listen to the audio if you are interested. I didn’t even cover John Piper’s messages on world missions. Great stuff!
Join me in Advancing the Local Church!
It has been so long since I have blogged here that I almost couldn’t figure out how to do it. A lot has happened in my life since the last time I blogged, at least regularly. My wife had a baby 1 Year ago, (happy birthday!) Elijah Fulton Jenkins. The company where I work has grown by about 200% since the last year, and with it my office has moved. And I have been ordained as an elder at my church, Ephesus Church. This was a huge event in my life and I am still transitioning and getting used to the idea that I am a Pastor/Elder, but it has been good.
I have preached my first “Sunday morning” sermon. The Pastors at Ephesus are preaching through 1 John and was my priveledge to preach on I John 2:3-6. This is a very powerful and convicting section of scripture. I pray that I did it justice and brought glory to God while equiping the members of our church.
My plan is to relaunch this blog soon. Stay tuned!
Until next time.
The question I asked in my recent sermon title was, Imago Dei: What does it mean that we are created in God’s Image and how does it affect your life?
I think a lot of Christians know that we are created in God’s Image but don’t spend much time thinking about how we are to image God on a day to day, hour to hour, or even minute to minute basis.
I spent a lot of time in my sermon laying out that we are created in God’s image and what that means, but didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked on how we are to image God daily. I guess that will have to wait for another time. I did get to it though, and the implications for Christian living are foundational and far reaching. Here are the notes for most of my sermon, for anyone who is interested. Happy imaging!
- What does it mean that we are human beings.
- Historical sketch:
1.Before Augustine – What group we belong to.
2. After Augustine’s cofessions – More individualistic outlook.
3. Rene Descarte – “I think therefor I am”
4. Jonathan Edwards – Mind plus God’s Grace
5. Jean Jacques Rousseau – “Love ourselves”
6. Abraham Maslow – Man’s “hierarchy of needs”
America’s God is a God of “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism”
Back in Gen 1:1, we see God/Elohim creating everything and through the rest of chapter God is creating, day by day.
God preexists, he makes everything and everyone.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
- In the 1st chapter of Genesis, God is showing us the uniqueness of the creation of mankind.
- ONLY man is created in God’s Image and after God’s likeness.
- God counsels with or deliberates about man’s creation. “Let us”. With no other creation does God do this but man.
- (v. 26) The next, and very interesting thing we notice here is that God says “Let US” make man in “our” image. There have been 2 or 3 different interpretations of this but the way most Christians understand this is that God is speaking of the fact that he does not exist as a solitary being, but as a being in fellowship with others
- Though the word Trinity is not used here or explicitly taught, it is expressed here and is more clearly explained in the NT.
- The word “man” in the Hebrew is the word “adam” and is referring to mankind in general, as opposed to the animals.
- (v.27). Here God says that mankind is made “in our image, after our likeness”. Even though these are 2 phrases, they are basically just two ways to say the same thing.
The Hebrew word from image has the root meaning of “to carve or to cut”, telling us that man images God, or represents him to the world.
The Hebrew for from likeness, means “to be like”. These two words combined are saying that man is a representation of God, who is also like God in certain ways.
- We are given some specific ways in these verses that we resemble God:
1. Dominion v. 26 – In exercising Dominion man is like God because God has supreme and ultimate dominion over the Earth.
2. Male & Female v. 27 – complementarian relationship of the man and the woman, God exists as a social being in close fellowship within the Trinity, likewise, man is a social being who needs the companionship and community or fellowship that comes from marriage and family, friendships, and their church, where Christians are encouraged to live out their callings as God’s representatives. More on this calling later.
God Created Male and Female. What gender is God?
-God is spirit, so he does not have a gender..he is neither male nor female. God does reveal himself in a masculine form as Father, and Jesus was a man, but God is not an gendered being but as John say, God is a spirit.
-But male and female do both proceed from God are are made equal to each other in the image and likeness of God. Neither are more like God than the other.
3. v. 28, Men and Women are responsible beings who can be addressed by God & ultimately responsible to Him. By God blessing Adam and Eve He is also showing communication and relationship with them. Kindness and affection and a personal relationship.
4. v.31, Because man came directly from God, he was not corrupt, depraved, or sinful. He was in a state of integrity, innocence, and holiness. Whatever state we find ourselves in today, man, as originally created was, in God’s own word, very good.
Genesis 2:7-8, 15-16, 18, 20-24
7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
- Gen 2:7 – God spoke all of creation except for man, who he formed and breathed life into – giving of a soul and spirit.
- Gen 2:15-16 – God commanded – God is a moral being & so are we unlike the animals.
- Gen 2:18 – Now God makes Adam, the first man, the first woman, who is a helper fit for him. The implication here is that men need help! A helper is a good thing. The Holy Spirit is said to be the Christians helper here on Earth, so this is not a negative thing but a declaration of worth and value.
– Like we have said, the woman is an equal image bearer of God.
The next passage in Genesis that deals with man as the image of God is Genesis 5:1-3:
1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man (Hebrew adam), he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.
- This section of scripture starts off with a reminder that God created man in His likeness, using the same Hebrew word as in 1:26.
- We haven’t mentioned the fall of man from Chapter 3 of Genesis, but we do learn there that Adam and Eve sinned against God which had the affect of plunging mankind into a slavery to sin/disobedience, and from then on this sin nature is passed on to every person who is ever born.
- Because of the catastrophic event, there a some who would say that man completely lost the likeness of God. But as we see here and for the rest of The Bible there is no mention of that here, on the contrary, this post fall reference to creation reminds of our image bearing role in creation.
- There is no doubt that God’s image has been tarnised/disfigured/warped by the fall, but as bad as the fall was, it was not even enough to completely erase our foundational nature as image bearers of God.
- To add strength to this argument, v.3 here tells us that Adam fathered a son, post fall, and this son Seth was born in the image and likeness of his father, Adam. Since Adam bore God’s image and Seth was made in Adam’s likeness, we can infer that Seth and (everyone else) is an image-bearer of God.
The next and final passage dealing with the image of God is Genesis 9:6:
6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
- The context here is God giving instructions to mankind via Noah to preserve the Earth and its inhabitants
- The basic message here is that whoever murders another person is deserving of the same fate, which obviously is death.
- The reason for this is grounded in the fact that mankind is made in God’s image.
- Anthony Hoekema in his book “Created in God’s Image” has this to say about this passage:
” The reason that murder is here said to be such a heinious crime that it must be punished by death is that the man who has been murdered is someone who imaged God, reflected God, was like God, and represented God. Therefore when one kills a human being, not only does he take that person’s life, but he hurts God himself – the God who was reflected in that individual. To touch the image of God is to touch God himself; to kill the image of God is to do violence to God himself.”
What does the New Testament say about the Image of God?
One passage, James 3:9, pretty clearly tells us that fallen man still retains the Image of God. Speaking on the power and evil capacity of the tongue, James tells us this:
9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
James is here pointing out the evil inconsistency of both praising God and cursing others with the same tongue. But what is inconsistent about it? Because the other people that we curse are people made in the likeness of God. Again, on the verse Hoekema has this to say: “human beings as here described have at some time in the past been made according to the likeness of God and are still bearers of that likeness. For this reason it is inconsistent to praise God and curse men with the same tongue, since the human creatures whom we curse still bear the likeness of God. For this reason God is offended when we curse men.” And it is important to remind ourselves that James is talking about all people everywhere, not just Christians or those who look and act like ourselves, but all people everywhere
- Before we move on lets recap and throw out some other things that show how people are like God or made in His Image:
1. We can make moral decisions in our dominion of the Earth. We can have positive and negative affects on the Earth
2. we are social: write, communicate, speak
3. Emotions: we feel things deeply
4. We can think, learn, we have an intellect and can reason
5. We are immortal and have a spirit, live forever, our soul will go on
6. Creative ability – art, music, building things, technology
7. Appreciate beauty – aesthetics & the arts
All of these attributes of man flow from the Imago Dei – being made in the image of God.
Before we look at a few more NT verses, I want to transition our thinking a little bit. Up until now we have been thinking about the IOG as a noun, as it what it is. I want you to begin to think about it as verb as in, how can I, as an image bearer, Image God as I should be? I think this is the way that the NT shows us the importannce of the IOG, in that we not only are made in the IOG, but that we must live and act as an Image of God.
Ways we are like God – Communicable or shared attributes:
1. God is spirit – we have a spirit
2. God is Holy – by God’s grace we can live a Holy life
3. God loves and is good to others – We can love others and be good, and fair and just to others
4. God is truth – we don’t have to live with lies..we can tell the truth and receive the truth with gladness
5. God is just- we too can see after justice and righteousness
6. God is merciful and compassionate – we too should be merciful and compassionate to others
7. God is beauty and defines beauty – we too can creaty beauty and appreciate beautiful things – music, art, aestetics, architecture, food.
8. God is a God of order – through the Gospel God brings order to chaos and we too can bring order to the world around us
- These are things we share with God, not only Christians but all humans, and is a tremendous blessing that God gives to all humanity, to share in God’s very own attributes. None of these things were created by man, but were given to us by God, as blessings, to enjoy and share with him. As we know we have fallen into sin and can’t do these things like we should, but we can still pursue them to a degree as image bearers, but only with God’s help and common grace that he gives to all. If there was no sin we would reflect perfectly God’s image.
We were created to image God perfectly, but we failed. We sinned and tarred the image. We are like broken, warped mirrors, like the kind they have at fairs. you can still see your image, it is there, but it is broken and mis-shaped. So our job, what we were created to do is image God perfectly and we can’t anymore, so what did God do? He sends us someone who can image God perfectly. His name is Jesus.
-Jesus is the unserpassable, perfect example of what God wants each of us to be like. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:4:
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
- The greek word here is “eikon”, where we get our English work icon, and is the equivalent of the Hebrew word for image used in Genesis.
- So when we see Jesus, we see the glory and the image of God.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
-So even though God is invisible, we can’t see him with our eyes, in Jesus Christ the invisible God becomes visible. The person who looks at Christ is actually looking at God.
- Hebrews 1:3 says that The Son, Jesus, is the “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”.
- Here in Hebrews we see an absolutely facinating relationship between the image of God and the incarnation (Jesus coming in flesh as a man).
-While the incarnation is a great mystery, God becoming flesh, we can presume or imagine that the very reason that Jesus, God, could come to Earth as a man is because man was made in God’s image. What other being could he come as, as no other being has a resemblance to God.
- In John 14:8-9, Jesus tells Phillip if you see me you have seen the Father. IWO, I am the Fathers perfect image.
So now we have a benchmark, a measuring rod, and standard for what it means to be a normal human. Jesus is what normal should be like. He is normative. We are all abnormal. This means that in this life we are not to compare ourselves to others…Ever, but to Jesus, who perfectly Images or reflects God.
So the question before us is can we image (verb) God and if so how do we image (verb) God?
-Romans 8:29 says that ” 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,”.
There is our answer to the can we part. So how do we?
- Colossians 3:5-10 – 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
– John Calvin said that we image God by reflecting God’s image like a mirror (i.e. Moses’ face), we are to radiate God to the Earth/others. This looks like mirroring God’s patience, His love, being truthful, being compassionate, showing mercy, being just (not prejudiced and prideful), pursue holiness and righteousness… to be more and more like Jesus.
- So there is no better way to see the image of God than to look at Jesus.
- Unfortunately through sin our mirror is broken, but by the power of the Holy Spirit Christians can reflect God more & more and bring glory to Jesus.
- This is our key to a joyous life. What a great, joyful experience it is to mirror Jesus and focus on him instead of focusing on ourselves.
We exist to mirror Jesus and glorify God. This is our root source of joy, meaning, & significance, even in times of trouble.
- Living in a way that doesnt’ seek to mirror God, IOW living for sinful, selfish desires and sin, apart from you creator, is wasting your life and a giant wild goose chase of eternal consequences.
In closing I want to give you just a couple of implications of the Imago Dei.
1. Root of why we show justice, compassion, and equality.
2. Loving all people of all ethnic backgrounds becuase all people equally bear the image of God.
3. We are to respect all human life, no matter the age or condition.
- The only way you can do what you were created to do well, that is image God, is to be in relationship with Jesus.
- Be connected to God and His people and let the church come along side you and connect you to others. Its not good to be alone. God is not alone and you shouldn’t be either.
- The only way we can continue to mirror God well is by daily, progressive renewal of our hearts and minds through the Gospel and the Word.
- Our ultimate Goal and our promised end is that one day, as John wrote in 1 John 3:2, we will see Jesus as he really is, as God’s perfect image, and when that happens, we will be like Him, the perfect image bearers we were created to be.
Things have been non-existent over here at Follower of the Way. The summer has been busy. The beginning of the summer found my family 1 person larger. Elijah Fulton Jenkins was born on June 5 and is now full fledged member of the household.
Things have been busy at my job and I have been doing lots of reading on exciting things like finance and accounting! Been trying to keep up a little with the depressing state of politics in America, which is always good for an exciting conversation or two.
This is all to say that I am hoping to blog at least a little more regularly. First up will be a post summarizing a sermon I just preached at my church, Ephesus Church, on the Imago Dei. We’ll see how it goes after that.
This is just a heads up that new things are on the horizon.
See you soon.
Here is a link to Josh Harris’ blog where he speaks to his church, Covenant Life Church, pastorally, on heart issues when it comes to each others choice of educational options for our children.
Conservative religious people involved in kingdom-of-the-world thinking often believe that their enemies are the liberals, the gay activists, the ACLU, the pro-choice advocates, the evolutionists, and so on. On the opposite side, liberal religious people often thing that their enemies are the fundamentalists, the gay bashers, the Christian Coalition, the antiabortionists, and so on. Demonizing one’s enemies is part of the tit-for-tat game of Babylon, for only by doing so can we justify our animosity, if not violence, toward them. What we have here are two different religious versions of the kingdom of the world going at each other. If we were thinking along the lines of the kingdom of God, however, we would realize that none of the people mentioned in the above lists are people whom kingdom-of-God citizens are called to fight for.
Our battle is “not against flesh and blood”, whether they are right wing or left wing, gay or straight, pro-choice or pro-life, liberal or conservative, democratic or communist, American or Iraqi. Our battle is against the “cosmic powers” that hold these people, and all people, in bondage. Whatever our opinions about how the kingdom of the world should run, whatever political or ethical views we may happen to embrace, our one task of kingdom-of-God disciples is to fight for people, and the way we do it is by doing exactly what Jesus did. He defeated the cosmic powers of darkness by living a countercultural life characterized by outrageous love and by laying down his life for his enemies. So too, we contribute to the demise of the “power over” principalities that hold people in bondage when we refrain from judgment of others and rather extend grace to them, when we let go of anger toward others and instead “come under” them in loving service.
A person may win by kingdom-of-the-world standards but lose by the standards that eternally count-the standards of the kingdom of God. We can posses all the right kingdom-of-the-world opinions on the planet and stand for all the right kingdom-of-the-world causes, but if we don’t look like Jesus Christ carrying his cross to Golgotha-sacrificing our time, energy, and resources for others-our rightness is merely religious noise. Jesus taught that there will be many who seem to believe the right things and do religious deeds in his name whom He will renounce, for they didn’t love him by loving the homeless, the hungry, the poor, and the prisoner (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:41-46; cf. Luck 6:46-49). However right we may be, without love we are simply displaying a religious version of the world, not the Kingdom of God. – Author Anonymous (for now).
I am going to let the author of the above quote from a book I am reading remain anonymous for now. If you know the answer, feel free to guess. I may give you a prize, or a copy of the book if you want it. The author up to this point has decribed what he sees as the differences between the Kingdom of God, which Jesus initiated at his first coming, and the kingdom of the world, which is ruled primarily by the forces of evil and is characterized by the exact opposite traits as God’s kingdom. It has been an interesting read and I am looking forward to finishing.
More to come.
The Patriot Post
Founders’ Quote Daily
“[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore…never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market.”
– Thomas Jefferson (letter to Judge William Johnson, 12 June 1823)
Reference: Original Intent, Barton (261); original Memoir,
Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas
I thought Ed (yes, I have met Ed and think I can use his first name) did a great job here for the millisecond that he had. You go Ed!
“I finally settled on a fundamental answer. “I, as a believer that Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew, the Christ of the Greeks, was the Anointed One of God (born of the seed of David, upon faith as Abraham had faith, and it was accounted to him for righteousness), am grafted onto the true vine, and am one of the heirs of God’s covenant with Israel.””
John R. Cash answering a question about what his religious affiliation was. – From “Man in White” pg. xiii
For modest bibliophiles and Jefferson admirerers, like myself, this is a very cool story.
Let me be honest. Most things I see and read by Christians on politics I find to be tragically bad, especially these days. I have strong interests in both so this is rather depressing for me, but I just read a great list and want to pass it on.
How to engage in politics without losing your soul. I think each point would be worth a complete post but I probably won’t get around to it. Hope you enjoy it.
For my eschatologically minded friends I recommend this blog post by Kim Riddlebarger. Very short but good look at verses from Isaiah, the Gospels, and Acts that can be understood quite literally as showing that some Israel focused prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ Himself, the true and kingly offspring of Abraham.
Via Joe Thorn.net
FYI – Being ingrown is neither good nor healthy.
This article by Russell Moore is a great read and the book looks even better.
You can now reach Follower of the Way at www.sosipater.com. No need to type wordpress in the address anymore. Isn’t that awesome?!
Riddleblog has a good post about Governor Mike Huckabee and Presidential Politics. The more I think and get involved with politics the more I am drawn to the two Kingdom approach, though that is not an endorsement by me. But it does seem to protect the integrity of The Gospel and The Church better than the other Reformed view, whatever you want to call it. Check out the post and as always if interested comment away.
Hey everybody. Things have been very slow here at Follower of The Way and for that I apologize. Other things have been taking up my time but I hope to be offering some major changes to this blog over the next year. Keep checking in to find out what will be going on.
I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season and my prayer is that everyone reading this blog will have a great year in 2008.
Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ have started this year out with a bang! Yesterday almost 30 members of my church left to go to Gulfport, Mississippi for a trip that will hopefully change lives. They have teamed up with several churches from our association, ARBCA, and are serving the needs there of people who lost homes in hurricane Katrina.
I hope you can check in and offer up prayers for all of the team members and residents who will be working together for the Glory of God to serve their neighbors in Mississippi.
War. Are there always wars and rumors of wars? Hasn’t war been in our nature since Adam and Eve sinned those many, many years ago. Think back to your history classes. What seems to be a common thread in them all? War.
Now in 2007 war is just as prevalent as always. The U.S.A. is engaged in a “war”. So how are Christians to think about war in general, and this specific war in Iraq?
Well, to help us think about this, I want to pass along a 15+ year old interview that based on the content could have been recorded yesterday. My friend BJ brought to my attention this interview with the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen conducted back during the first Iraq War. Dr. Bahnsen is known for his grasp of philosophy and apologetics, but to me he hits the ball out of the park in this interview. Check it out and let me know what you think.
As promised in my previous post, better late than never.
I agree with the commenter on this post, any government who tries to enforce the first 5 commandments makes me beyond nervous. To me this is problematic because God is the only one capable of enforcing or judging the 1st tablet. A government run by sinful men is not capable of that. This is the great problem of modern day evangelical politics in my opinion.
For Calvin, the Decalogue was both the fundamental law of the Old Covenant and the fundamental law of all of biblical ethics. This latter assertion can be illustrated in Calvin’s view of the sum of the law. Hesselink says, “…[I]t can be said that Calvin’s high esteem for the law, as summarized in the two tables of the decalog, is nothing other than an attempt to give meaning and content to that which lies at the heart of the Christian ethic, namely, love” (Ibid.). In the Decalogue, Calvin saw a distinct form of the law revealed with reference to its publication in redemptive history, but a normative function of the law with reference to its perpetual utility. “The form of the law is relative to time and circumstance, but the truth of the law ever remains the same” (Hesselink, Calvin …Law, 35).
Over at the Midwest Center for Theological Studies blog Rich Barcellos has been enlightening us on Calvin’s thoughts on the Law, particularly the Three-Fold Use and the Decalogue. Awesome stuff. Here are the links. I’ll link to the Decalogue posts next time.
It is important to understand that, for Calvin, the three-fold division of the law is hermeneutically and theologically necessary because of the first advent of Christ and the redemptive-historical implications of the New Covenant for biblical law. Since the coming of Christ the whole Old Testament Law still functions, though not in the same way as before. The abrogation of certain functions of the law does not abrogate all uses of the law. In the words of Wendel, “…the Law was not in itself abrogated by the Christ, but only the slavery and malediction attaching to it under the ancient Covenant. Christians therefore remain subject to the Law, but not in the same way as the Jews used to be” (Ibid., 203).
It is vital to understand that Calvin clearly taught a doctrine of abrogation or fulfillment of law under the New Covenant. However, his view of abrogation was qualified very carefully to protect the normative use of the Moral Law for believers. Niesel says:
…Calvin does not teach in the strict sense an abolition of the law. In this regard he is at one with the New Testament witness. …while we are free from the curse and compulsion of the law, from its ceremonies and political ordinances, we remain bound to its inner content. (Niesel, Theology, 100)
Consequently Paul, to prove their observance not only superfluous but also harmful, teaches that they are shadows whose substance exists for us in Christ [Col. 2:17]. Thus we see that in their abolition the truth shines forth better than if they, still far off and as if veiled, figured the Christ, who was already plainly revealed himself. …Let it be regarded as a fact that, although the rights of the law have ceased to be observed, by their termination one may better recognize how useful they were before the coming of Christ, who in abrogating their use has by his death sealed their force and effect. (Calvin, Institutes, 364, 365)
We may say that for Calvin, the Ceremonial Law has been abrogated in use but not in effect and the Moral Law has been abrogated in effect but not in use.
Drama. The word brings a few meanings to mind. To the youth culture a person or relationship that is defined by emotional instability or overreaction can generally be referred to as drama. We are all familiar with the term drama queen for someone who reflects this behavior. My wife and I on occasion have referred to our 1 year old daughter as a “drama queen” for her inconsolable outbursts when one of us takes the incorrect spot on her bed to lay down with her. And finally for the purpose of this endeavor, drama is the word we use for stories that touch us on deep levels and have mature and thoughtful themes and plotlines, sometimes even of epic proportions. Movies that have these characteristics are referred to as dramas.
Dramas can be found in all genres. I remember my first taste of drama as a 7 year old. It started when Darth Vader’s Super Destroyer was relentlessly pursuing Princess Leia’s starship over the desert planet Tatooine. Yes, it was Star Wars the epic science fiction fantasy story that tells the tale of heroes, heroines, and really bad guys a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
But was that really my first taste of a grand story that grabbed my imagination and my attention and uplifted my soul in a way that left me longing for more? No, on second thought I remember a much grander, much more robust, much more meaningful, and much truer story than the one I saw on the big screen that day.
I remember reading and hearing this long before I saw Star Wars. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:1, 31). This story didn’t end there though. “The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15) This story didn’t waste a lot of time setting the stage for the bad thing that happens in the beginning! Talk about drama, what in the world would the human race do? How could Adam and Eve do that? What were they thinking? And who is this one who will bruise the head of the evil serpent? These are cliffhanger questions if I ever saw one.
Now over the course of the next couple of thousand years God, through the writers of the Bible, spun a most excellent tale of towers, floods, kings, armies, battles, love stories, and love letters. All the while, building up to one great moment in storytelling history.
But is the Bible a drama? “When we look a bit more closely at the Bible, we find that the majority of its content is narrative in character. It is a storied revelation. This fact suggests that the unifying, insight-producing feature that gives the Bible its coherence as revelation is the story it tells. Indeed, the Bible as a whole is best understood as a story or drama. To be sure the Bible does more than tell a story. Scripture includes psalms and proverbs, songs and prayers, moral instruction and doctrinal reflection. But what holds all of it together, what makes it a unified revelation is the storyline, what theologians often call the drama of redemption. The nonnarrative pieces fit into and make sense only within their appropriate contexts in the biblical storyline” (“Far as the Curse is Found” by Michael D. Williams, Pg x).
And who is the Luke Skywalker, or Indiana Jones, or Optimus Prime of this grand story? The central figure of the Bible who holds the whole thing together and who every verse speaks about is none other than our own high priest and savior Jesus Christ. “Biblical religion holds that the central event in all human history was the execution of a wandering first-century Palestinian preacher and his rising from the dead two days later in fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. This is the Gospel…What was promised to Adam and Eve in the midst of their guilt and shame, what was prefigured over and over again throughout the Old Testament story of Israel…came to pass in a Judean backwater town where God “became flesh and made his dwelling with us””. (“Ibid, Pg. xiii)
So the next time you read your Bible, remember that the story is true and that it finds its fulfillment in Christ. This is why you are drawn to stories, because the very God who made you is the most excellent storyteller in existence. And the next time you are entranced by a drama or story, you don’t have to wonder why. It is because you are already part of the greatest story ever told. If you know and follow Jesus and have turned to him for salvation, then you are a central character in this great redemption story. You have been “grafted” into this never ending, eternal story of redemption and not as a mere extra, but a co-heir with Christ, the lead character, and will benefit from His gracious extension of his mercy. And if you don’t know Him and have refused his call, then you still have the opportunity to enter His story, but time is indeed running out. Your very love for the drama in life bears out this very fact.
Friends, I wanted to pass along Thanksgiving holiday wishes from Follower of The Way. Is it just me, or does Thanksgiving have more of a Biblical feel than even Christmas these days? Doesn’t the very existence of this holiday presuppose that there is someone out there whom everyone deserves to give thanks to? I know there are many who either don’t give that a second thought, or find substitutes. But as for me and my house, we will eat Turkey and be thankful to the sovereign God who gives and takes for His own glory.
By the way, check out this post by Steve Weaver. The best parts are the historical information (please pardon the quotes by Lincoln and Bush).
Enjoy the holiday and make sure you give thanks where thanks are due!