Thursday, March 30, 2006

Psalm 93:5b - The Application of God’s Word.

posted by paul

In 5b we find the application of God’s Word. “Holiness befits Your house, O Lord, forevermore.” Spurgeon said, “No hangings, no tapestry become God’s house so well as holiness…” God is holy, and so his house must be holy. This idea of holiness is, in the truest sense of the word, is awesome. Holy is what God is. In Psalm 5:4-7 God’s holiness is described.

Psalm 5:4-7 (NASB95):
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in
wickedness; No evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your
eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; The
Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. But as for me, by Your abundant
lovingkindness I will enter Your house, At Your holy temple I will bow in
reverence for You.

God is holy because He does not take pleasure in wickedness, no evil dwells within Him, He is not fooled by the boastful, He hates all who do iniquity, he destroys liars, He abhors the man of violence and lies, and He is lovingly kind. This is what makes him holy. This is why His house, including those of His household, must be holy. God cannot tolerate unholiness. This is what God communicated through Moses in Leviticus 19:2.

Leviticus 19:2 (NASB95):
“Speak to all the congregation
of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your
God am holy.

Holiness is the highest aim that we can attain to, because God is holy. The problem is that we are not holy. The apostle Paul made is quite clear, in Romans 3:9-12, that no one is holy.

Romans 3:9-12 (NASB95):
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for
we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is
“There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside,
together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is
not even one.”

This is bad news for us. The Psalmist makes it clear that it is “holiness that befits” the house of the Lord, and we are not holy. We cannot be allowed in the door. But in His exceeding lovingkindness God had a plan. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we see exactly what that plan is.

2 Corinthians 5:19-21 (NASB95):
…God was in Christ
reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them,
and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are
ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg
you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be
sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

God has reconciled to Himself a people, and He has done it through Christ. He made Christ the bearer of our sin, and He made us the recipients of Christ righteousness. All this was done that “we might be holy as He is holy.” What a wonderful gift that God has made available to us. Not only has God made it possible, through Christ for us to enter into His house, but He has also made us ambassadors for Christ here on this earth. The apostle Paul, teaching this same point, uses slightly different language in Galatians 4:4-6.

Galatians 4:4-6 (NASB95):
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent
forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem
those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!”

Through Christ we can be adopted into the family of God, and be made holy. If we will just repent and believe we will be saved (Mark 1:5). Remember, they only way that we can do this is through the rebirth of the Spirit by the imperishable seed of the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23; John 3:3, 5-8).

It is the confirmed testimonies of the King that make us holy, and consequently a part of His household. The Word of God is sufficient to save us, and effective in making us holy. God’s word, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, renews our mind so that we will not be conformed to the image of the world but rather be transformed into holy image of Christ. This is how powerful the word of God is, and it will be this powerful “forevermore.” Spurgeon illustrated this point well when he said, “Truth changed not its doctrines, which are sure, nor holiness its precepts, which are incorruptible.”


There is but one fitting response the knowledge of the living and true God, submission. Submit to God, Believe in Christ, and be saved by the King of the Universe. When you do this the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 8:37-39 can be yours:

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through
Him who loved us. For
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor
angels, nor principalities, nor
things present, nor things to come, nor
powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any
other created thing, will be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Psalm 93: The Sufficiency of God's Word

posted by paul
The Psalmist has established the reign of the King. The Lord reigns in majesty and strength eternally over all creation. His reign will continue to be threatened until the end of time, but He is too mighty and His throne too high for the waves of the rebellion. This is our King. He is a reliable King in whom we can trust. Because we can trust Him we can also trust His “testimonies.” Commonly God’s precepts are referred to as His testimony (see Psalm 119).

The Psalmist, having already spoken of God’s kingdom, now shows that the laws of that Kingdom are just and true and holy just like the King. If God is the majestic and strong King that we have been talking about then His word, or law, must be equally majestic and strong. Think about it! How else would a king rule besides through his decrees? Is there another way for a king to rule? No, a ruler of any kind has to use words- usually written words to rule. This is why our government has given us laws to follow. The government has established a legal limit for how fast we can drive, but we would not know what that limit was if it were not for signs on the side of the road. In fact, often times when we talk about state and federal officials we refer to them as lawmakers. This is because they govern us through the laws that they have passed. God rules over His creation in a similar way. He has given us “His Law” so that by it we will know the will of the King. The difference between God and human rulers is that God will perfectly enforce His law and He will judge all those who break it. If we want to know the will of the King then we must know His law, the Bible. The Bible is completely sufficient to guide conform our lives to the will of the King. We don’t have Senators calling us up individually on the phone to tell us what laws they would like each one of us to follow. There is one set of rules that is passed down through the law of the land. So too God has given us His law. He does not speak to us individually to give us special insight into His will because there is no need for Him to do so.

How often do we hear in our Christian culture about someone feeling the Spirit leading them to do something without having a clue what it means to be led by the Spirit? The Spirit works in a specific way. To be led by the Spirit is not to be led by your feelings; it is to be led by the Word of God. The Spirit of God works through the Word of God. In John 3 Jesus taught Nicodemus the importance of the Spirit of God in Salvation when He said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom
of God...” “
…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and
the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the
flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be
amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it
wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and
where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (3:3,

Before we can even accept the gospel message we first have to be reborn of the Spirit. In 1 Peter 1:23 we get an even clearer picture of what that looks like.

…for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable,
that is, through the living and enduring word of God. (1:23)

So it is the Spirit of God, using the Word of God, which brings us unto salvation. The testimonies of God are sufficient for our salvation. Based on these verses can we say that the Spirit leads us? Yes, but we must understand that the Spirit leads us through the ministry of the Word. Being led my the Spirit is not some special feeling that you have in you gut. Being led by the Spirit is having your mind renewed as the Spirit hides the word in our hearts.

What about when someone says, “God spoke to me.” Is that alright? Not, if they are talking about a voice they heard; or an emotional feeling that they had. If they mean that God has spoken to them through His written word, then great! God does not need to give us anything more than we already have. Would God reveal to us a Bible that was not sufficient? If we needed something that was not found in Scripture then why did God leave it out of Scripture? Why didn’t God provide for us what we needed when He gave us the Bible? The point that I am trying to make is that God has given us all that we need in the Bible, and when we add something to that we are taking away from the sufficiency of the Bible. Look at what John wrote about the testimonies of God:

1 John 5:9-12 (NASB95):
If we receive the testimony of men,
the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has
testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the
testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar,
because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His
Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this
life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the
Son of God does not have the life.

The testimony of the King is greater than the testimony of any man because through the testimony of God we have been given eternal life. Look at what king David wrote about the testimonies of God:

Psalm 19:7-8 (NASB95):
The law of the Lord is perfect,
restoring 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.

In this Psalm the words “law,” “testimony,” “precepts,” and “commandment” are all synonymous. They are talking about God’s revealed word, the Bible. At the time this Psalm was written the Bible did not even contain all that it now does. But even then God’s word was perfect. Through the ministry of the Spirit, God’s word restores our souls; makes us wise; causes our hearts to rejoice; and enlightens our eyes to truth.

In Nehemiah 8:1-12 we see just how powerful God’s word is. Here we find all the people of Israel gathered together. They had recently returned from captivity, and had completed the rebuilding of the city walls just a few days earlier. They wanted Ezra to bring the book, and he did not disappoint. He preached the word of God for approximately six hours (vs3), the people mourned and wept over their sins (vs9), and then rejoiced at God’s grace (vs10) all because “they understood the words which had been made known to them (vs12).” These are the words of our King, and they are good.

The entirety of Psalm 119 speaks of God’s Word. We could pick any verse out of the 176 verses to display the sufficiency of God’s Word (Isn’t it telling that the longest chapter in the entire Bible is on the sufficiency of the Bible?). This one in particular is one of my favorites:

Psalm 119:144 (NASB95):
Your testimonies are righteous
forever; Give me understanding that I may live.

God’s testimonies are righteous forever. They are confirmed! All throughout Scripture we find God keeping His promises, and fulfilling prophesy. God’s word has never failed, and because His word is a part of His rule it will never fail.
God’s Word is all that we need. When Christ was being tempted in the wilderness by Satan (Luke 4:1-12) He did not call down His legions to defeat Satan; instead Christ used the word of God. Three times Christ answered Satan with the phrase “it is written.” If Christ, the very King Himself, did “not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” how much more do we need Scripture.

Friday, March 24, 2006

What are you reading?

posted by Paul

Are you reading right now? What are you reading right now? This is the constant conversation that we should be having with one another. There is no other book in all the world that displays the character and work of God better than the Bible. So, #1 on the list should be the Bible. We should be people of the book; this is what makes us the people of God.

The Bible is not all that we need to be reading it is important to read books. Specifically books that will further our knowledge of the Bible. But how do we choose what books to read? Here are the questions that Richard Baxter asked himself:

1. Could I spend this time no better?

2. Are there better books that would edify me more?

3. Are the lovers of such a book as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?

4. Does this book increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?

I dare say that if we would all take such care in what we read we would be better conduits of God's glory. When we are reading good books we are standing on the shoulders of giants. ON their shoulders we can have our heads in the clouds of biblical knowledge, and strive to attain an even higher knowledge of what God has revealed. When you pick up Calvin's commentary you and read it you know what Calvin knew! Calvin put in all the work, and you can reap the benefits.

Find good books by godly men, and read them.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Saturday Evening

by John Newton

Safely through another week,
God has brought us on our way;
Let us
now a blessing seek,
On th' approaching Sabbath-day:
Day of all the week
the best,
Emblem of eternal rest.

Mercies multiply'd each hour
Through the week our praise demand
Guarded by Almighty pow'r,
and guided by his hand:
Though ungrateful we have been,
Only made
returns of sin.

While we pray for pard'ning grace,
Through the
dear Redeemer's name,
Show thy reconciled face,
Shine away our sin and

From our worldly care set free,
May we rest this night with thee.

When the morn shall bid us rise,
May we feel thy presence near!
May thy glory meet our eyes
When we in thy house appear!
afford us, Lord, a taste
Of our everlasting feast.

May thy
Gospel's joyful sound
Conquer sinners, comfort saints;
Make the fruits
of grace abound,
Bring relief for all complaints:
Thus may all our
Sabbaths prove,
Till we join the church above!

For more poems from Newton, and plenty of other great puritan material, go to:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

James 3:1

posted by paul

James continues his letter in this next section, 3:1-12, by instructing his readers on the importance of controlling the tongue. Or, to put it another way, the importance of what you say. This may seem a like an unrelated topic that James rather arbitrarily jumps into, however, I think that we can see at least a couple of reasons why James would chooses this subject next. The most obvious reason is to prevent an over emphasis on the previous passage. Someone could have over reacted to James’ teaching in 2:14ff, and come to the conclusion that words don’t matter at all. Thus, it is James’ point in this next section that what you “do” includes what you “say.” Your words are a part of your actions. In fact, words in this section are connected with the works of the last section.
As is often the case with James we find that Jesus’ teaching on this subject is very similar to James. Look at Matthew 12:33-37:

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its
fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. “You brood of vipers, how can
you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which
fills the heart. “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and
the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that
every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in
the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words
you will be condemned.”

Christ’s point, as well as James point, is that your words reveal your character.

The second reason that I think that James introduces this subject of controlling the tongue is connected with 1:21-27. James’ command is to receive the word, and he continues to elaborate on what that means through vs. 27. In this section James first says that in order to receive the word on must do the word. Consequently, in is necessary for one to examine themselves with scripture like one would examine themselves in a mirror. This correlates with the section that we just finished in Chapter 2. The next step in receiving the word is found in vs. 26. “Bridle the tongue.” What we are about to cover correlates with this. So I think that we are justified in saying that this section of controlling the tongue goes hand in hand with receiving the word. The point is that if we want to be able to control the tongue we have to let scripture have its effect on our lives. Remember, it is the Spirit of God who works through the Word of God to make a lasting change in your life. If we want scripture to be effective in our lives we must follow James’ earlier command to be slow to speak, and quick to hear (1:19). Back in 1:21-27 James’ next step in receiving the word is to keep oneself unstained by the world. It may look like I am skipping a step because James first says “to visit orphans and widows in their distress.” Really this is a part of keeping oneself unstained by the world. In most of our English translations the word “and” had been added (notice italics). In the Greek there is no conjunction. I that we can reasonably say that the two (visiting and not staining) both represent pure undefiled religion, and are really a part of the same life change that will result form the Spirit of God working through the Word of God. This correlates with 3:13-5:6 (which we will discuss more in the coming months).
Now that we have introduced this new section on the tongue we need to introduce vs.1. The real question is “Why does James choose to start by warning those who wish to teach?” Or, “How does this verse fit into a section about controlling the tongue?” Putting this at the beginning of this section makes a lot of sense. The teacher fulfils his duties through the spoken word, the tongue; thus the importance of taming the tongue is magnified in the life of a teacher. James’ address to would be teachers shows that importance James placed on them. Churches were “houses of instruction” concerning spiritual matters, and thus the teacher played an important role. Communicating with words is one of the distinguishing marks of human life. Sure, all other creatures communicate in some way; but no animal communicated like we humans do. This is another wonderful show of God’s grace! God created us to communicate through words so that He could reveal himself to us in His word (the Bible). The job of the teacher, within the Church, is to understand to word of God and communicate that understanding in words to God’s people. This is a great responsibility, and James does not want anyone to take it lightly. James discourages many from teaching because it is dangerous, and exposes one to the possibility of a heavier judgment.

II. The Command

James commands that many should become teachers. Not everyone should be eager to get up and teach. The term teacher, in this context, should not be restricted to the office of teacher. James is talking to all who arise to instruct fellow members of the church; whether they are official teachers or not. This would have been a great temptation for a lot of people during this time. In some Jewish circles, rabbis were held in such high regard that a person’s duty to his rabbi was greater than his duty to his own parents. Many men relished the opportunity to get up and teach because the enjoyed the prestige. This was a society in which many people could not even read, and so to be the teacher was to hold a position of great status. Many would have wanted to teach, or even become teachers, just for this upward movement in status. Obviously too many of the new Jewish Christians aspired to teach. James worried about this problem because many men would have had the opportunity to teach. During synagogue services any respected man might be given the opportunity to speak. Frequently men from the congregation, or even visitors would be given the opportunity to read Scripture and give an interpretation. Even though Jesus was not an official rabbi he was given the opportunity to speak on at least one occasion (Luke 4:15-21) during the Sabbath day services. Frequently the Apostle Paul would be given the opportunity to speak in synagogues when visiting a new city (Acts 13:5, 14-15). Apparently it was also common for a mature Christian man to speak in a meeting during this early church time. James was leery of this practice, and commanded that “not many of you become teachers.” In this command James is obviously not attacking the office of teacher; in fact James identifies himself as a teacher in this passage. His aim was to restrain the rush on the part of those who were not qualified to teach. This command does not just apply to pastors. There are many people who teach in many different capacities. Most of you do some type of teaching every week. You may be teaching by the younger students looking up to you or by actually taking the time to talk with someone about spiritual things and scripture. The truth is that Jesus commanded that the whole church do the work of evangelism and discipleship. To fulfill these responsibilities we involve teaching on some level. There is a huge responsibility, and great accountability in teaching, and even interpreting the Word of God. No believer should begin to any form of teaching God’s Word without a deep sense of the responsibility that is involved. To sin with the tongue when alone or with one or two other persons is bad enough; but to sin with the tongue when acting as a speaker for God is immeasurably worse. Speaking for God carries with it great implications, both for good and ill. We have to be careful what we say. This is why it is so ridiculous to have newly converted celebrities or athletes speaking and teaching. Just because some guy hit fifty home runs and thanked Jesus does no mean he has the ability to teach. This is why Paul warned Timothy not to put a new believer in a position of authority (1 Tim 3:6). It took Paul three years in the desert under the direct training of the Lord before he was prepared for his ministry (Gal 1:17-18; Acts 9:19-22). We are all going to be put in positions to teach at some point; we must be careful and remember that the responsibility of teaching far outweighs the prestige of being a teacher.

II. The Reason
In the second half of this verse we find out the reason why the responsibility of teaching outweighs the prestige of being a teacher: “…as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” The teacher, whose privileges are greater, will be judged with a special strictness. Take me for example; one of my jobs here at the church is to lead the youth. As the youth leader I am responsible for the teaching that the youth receive in our youth classes. Because of that responsibility I spend many hours preparing to teach on the passage we will be studying. I get paid to study my bible, which is what all Christians are required to do, and so I have a greater responsibility to understand God’s word. Not only would I be failing to work diligently at my job if I didn’t work to understand Scripture, but I would also be held accountable for all the time that I could have been studying that I wasted. A person teaching also is held to a higher standard because that person has influence over many people. Look at what the Apostle Paul said about the false teachers plaguing the Galatians:

Galatians 1:8-9: But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a
gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we
have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel
contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Galatians 5:10: I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no
other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he

If you teach something incorrect to someone else not only are you leading yourself astray, but you are also leading those listening to you astray. The primary reason that teachers will incur a stricter judgment is because their ministry involves speech, which we will see to be the hardest of all parts of the body to control (vs. 8); this exposes them to greater danger of sin and thus greater danger of judgment. This should increase everyone’s desire to obey James’ command in 1:19 and be slow to speak.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Psalm 93: The Frustration of any Challenges

posted by Paul

“More than the sounds of many waters, the mighty breakers of the sea, The Lord on high is mighty.” The Psalmist is not worried about the challenges to the throne of God, because he knows that the world is firmly established in the strong hand of the majestic King. The Lord’s throne is “on high” and protected from the onslaught of the rebellious waves. This must have been reassuring to the nation of Israel; whether they were facing opposition or celebrating victory the Psalmist knew that God was the source of their strength.
Scripture consistently portrays God as a source of strength and refuge.

Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”

It should not be hard for us here in Florida to gain a mental image of a place of refuge in the midst of a storm. Here in Florida most of us have probably been through a Hurricane in our lives. Down here we know the drill. Get water, get gas, bring everything in that could turn into a missile, and most importantly hunker down. You have to find a safe place in your home, or the shelter, with no windows. Then you have to depend on the roof to hold. This is not all that different with God. He is our safest place of refuge in the midst of the most difficult storms of life. The strongest place to take refuge is His Word. When we are in His word we are receiving the full benefits of sanctification and are equipped with the tools to deal with trials (but more on this later).
As we have seen in vs. 2 the Lord will always reign. This means that there will never be a rebellion that succeeds. No one can usurp the throne of the Lord. We can be assured that ultimately God will defeat all rebellion. This should be frightening for all men because Romans 5:10 tells us that we were all at one point the enemies of God. Thankfully in this same verse we see that through Christ Jesus we can be reconciled to God. We can dessert our post on the side of the rebellion and be made a part of the people of God. Through Christ we can join the victorious army of God, and live to glorify God rather than fight against Him. This is no small thing. In Matthew 16:18 we see that upon the Rock, that is, Christ the Church will be built and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. So, even though we have rebelled against God through our sin God has sent His Son to die for us so that we can be reconciled to God. Through the Gospel God has chosen a people for Himself and taken them out of the rebellion.
But for those who continue to rebel against God judgment is coming. Revelation 12:8-12 makes it clear that in this last battle God will be victorious. God will win because he is God, and the rebellious will be eternally punished (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10). When we recognize that the Lord reigns, and we submit to Him, we will enjoy the peace that comes from being in the place of refuge. As the Hymn writer put it:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Psalm 93:3: Challenges to God's Reign

posted by paul

The Floods of Many Challenges

Napoleon Bonaparte was once asked, “Is God on the side of France?” Blinded by his own power and proud of his own success, this arrogant military leader replied, “God is on the side that has the heaviest artillery.” In saying this Napoleon meant that it did not matter what God willed, but only what he willed. Later on, Napoleon boasted, “I make circumstances.” For those of you who are history buffs you know that these quotes were before Waterloo. It was in 1815 that Napoleon’s French army (yes that did exist at one time) advanced across Europe into Belgium with the aim of destroying the armies of Britain and Russia. Despite having the heaviest artillery, this diminutive dictator, lost both the battle and his empire. In this defeat Napoleon was not only humbled, but was also unseated from his throne and exiled to the desolate island of St. Helena. I guess that you could say that Napoleon made this circumstance, but it did not come out quite like he envisioned.

As Napoleon had time to contemplate his military defeat, Napoleon changed his perspective about his power, history, and even God. Napoleon gave up the idea that God is on the side that possesses the greatest human strength. Quoting Kempis, this once proud ruler recognized that “Man purposes, but God disposes.” Napoleon had to learn the hard way that it is God not a circumstance that is sovereign. God has scripted history, He enthrones rulers, and he controls His Kingdom.

We can be sure of two things from vss. 3-4. First, there will be rebellions against God that seek to usurp His rule. Second, God will not be usurped.

The Psalmist writes,
“The floods have lifted up,
O Lord,
The floods have lifted up their voice,
The floods lift up their pounding waves.”

In the OT in particular the sea is seen as an emblem of hostility. In Isaiah 17:12-13 we see that “the uproar of the peoples” is like “roaring of the sea.” In Isaiah 57:20 we see that the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot be quieted. From this we can see that when the Psalmist writes of the floods lifting up he is referring to those who will rebel against God. At least two similar passages are found in Psalter.

114:3: The sea looked and fled; the Jordan turned back.

106:9: Thus He rebuked the Red Sea and dried it up, and He led them through the deeps, as through the wilderness.

In Psalm 106 we see that the Psalmist’s reference to the sea may also allude to the parting of the Red Sea. It is not surprising that we can find an allusion to the parting of the Red Sea in this Psalm since the Psalm opens with the conclusion of Moses after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15:18). Yahweh was the great warrior (Exodus 15:3) who defeated the so-called god Pharaoh and reigned as King over Israel. Also, the reference to the “voice” of the flood, or the noise has an interesting correlation to Jeremiah 46:17. In this passage we see that Pharaoh, as mighty as he was, was nothing but a noise to God. Pharaoh’s time to rule was appointed by God, and his “time to pass” was appointed by God (sounds a lot like Napoleon doesn’t it?).

God’s rule will be challenged by the rebellious; we can see this all throughout scripture. In Numbers 16 we find one of the most gruesome examples of men rebelling against God. He we find Korah and his band rebelling against God’s commands. In essence Korah sought to usurp Moses’ authority and wanted everyone to be priests (vss. 1-3) even though God had only chosen a few to perform the duties of the priest. God did not allow Korah to steal His authority, and not only did he not allow Korah to be a priest but he also justly punished Korah and his band (vss. 31-35). There is an example of rebellion that is even more severe than that of Korah; the rebellion of the fallen angels. In 2 Peter 2:4 we see that some of the angels rebelled against God by sinning. In Luke 10:18 Christ describes Satan as “[falling] from heaven like lightning.” Satan’s rebellion was the ultimate rebellion. Now Satan is the leader of the rebellion against God. In Romans 8:38 we see that Satan and his demons are working, in vain, to separate the people of God from the love of God. Daniel 10:12ff shows us that Satan and his demons are also working against God’s angels. In this sense we should picture two armies with two kings that are battling one another. In fact, this is exactly what we see in Revelation 12:7.

I think that it is accurate to say that the “floods” that the Psalmist writes about represent challenges to God’s reign as King of the Universe by the rebellious. However, even if we interpret “floods” and “waves” to mean literal “floods” and “waves” we still see the majesty of God portrayed in His strength. Scripture makes it clear that God is in control of nature. In Luke 8:22-25 the Lord’s control over the water is particularly seen. Here we find Christ and His disciples in a boat crossing the water. During this voyage a huge storm came up and threatened the safety of the men aboard the boat. The disciples panicked, but Christ proved that despite the disciples’ lack of faith and the despair of the situation He was still in control. The Lord Reigns.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Who is the Gospel for?

posted by Paul

My wife and I have lived in the same apartment building for about 15 months now. Quite frankly they are not the nicest apartments in town, nor are the in the nicest area of town. Frequently I arrive home from my night shift and find the police in our parking lot dealing with various illegal activities. We have had everything happen since we have been there from fires, to domestic disturbances, once we had a cow (literally), we have even had to call 911 about shot fired in our building. The nice thing about living in these apartments is that we do not get many salesmen knocking on our door. I haven’t seen one JW since we moved into this place! Since we have been there we have had three people come to our door 1) a guy selling news paper subscriptions 2) An elderly couple passing out Christian literature, 3) A couple of young men knocking on doors with their bibles. It is the last two of these that I am curious about.

The elderly couple that knocked on our door were a very sweet looking pair. They were both in their mid-sixties and spoke with a slight Spanish accent (which is not all that uncommon in the Tampa area). They were both carrying old warn copies of the Bible that they had obviously been poring over for years. I was delighted to see them, and hoped to have an encouraging conversation that would send them on their way to do their work. Before I was able to say anything they looked at me and asked “are there any Hispanics living in this apartment?” To which is answered “no.” Promptly, and without saying another word they turned and left. I wasn’t sure what to say, but all that came out was “have a nice day.”

The two young men that I mentioned did not actually knock on my door. I ran into them in the hallway outside my door while loading my truck with some things. I was making several trips back and forth when I noticed that they too were knocking on doors with their bibles. They knocked on my neighbors door spoke shortly with her and then left. They then began to knock on the door of a vacant unit. I let them know that there was no one home, and asked them what they were doing. They thanked me for the info, and said they were knocking on peoples doors. To that I thought “duh!” But before something kinder and more intellectual came out of my mouth they walked away from me. I noticed that they knocked on several people’s doors only to have a brief word then leave. Finally, they found someone to speak to and that they did for quite a while. As I thought about it later in the day I realized what I had seen. These two young black men were only stopping to talk to our black neighbors.

In both of these instances churches were racially focusing their evangelism. Neither one of these door to door campaigns were open to all people. The Hispanic church only wanted Hispanic people, and the Black church only wanted Black people. Obviously there are political and cultural questions that come to mind, but more importantly we should be asking who is the Gospel for? I know that these are extreme examples of evangelism, and by no means am I painting a picture of Hispanic Christians or Black Christians. I want to make it clear that this is not a problem stemming from race but it is a problem indicative of many churches today. Why do churches need to have a demographic? Why do churches look to
Barna and try to figure out how to minister best to a certain group of people? The apostle Paul was all things to all people. He did not need to poll the people to see what they wanted, he knew that they needed the Word and that is what he gave them.

Before you leave this blog I want you to see an example of the Gospel going out to all people worldwide. My parents just returned from China. They were there on a one-on-one (actually two-on-one) evangelistic campaign.

They did not preach at any stadium; nor did they go knocking on doors. My parents went to China and adopted my new little sister. They gave the hope of the “power of God unto salvation” to a little girl in an orphanage that may have never heard the Gospel otherwise. We are praying that my parents’ missionary trip will yield much fruit! We are praying that God will adopt little Grace Elyse just like our family has adopted her.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Psalm 93: The Kingdom

posted by Paul

Part of God’s character is to reign over the earth with majesty and strength. Consequently, “the world is firmly established.” The fact that God spoke the world into existence demonstrates that He is sovereign over that creation. Free to create or not create, God spoke the universe into existence. The fact that God created what He wanted when He wanted is a strong statement of the absolute control of God. From creation God had this power, and he has not relinquished it. If it were not for God’s sovereign rule over creation then we could not be sure of anything. As it stands now we know that the sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening. Instinctively we breathe in and out without ever wondering if there will be air. It is God who holds all of these things together. This is exactly what Colossians 1:15-17 teaches. It is Christ who not only created the world, but also holds it together. This earth belongs to God, and it is his kingdom. The kingdom of God is a very common theme in the Bible both in OT and in the NT. In the OT the kingdom of God primarily refers to God’s special reign over Israel and a more general reign over the entire earth (Really, the only difference is the Israel acknowledge that God was in control.). But there is another aspect to the kingdom of God that is seen more clearly in the NT, particularly in the teachings of Christ in the gospels. It is in these teachings that Christ taught concerning an eschatological kingdom (Matthew 24:14). We could say that there are two aspects of the kingdom of God; there is the “already” and the “not yet.” The “already” we talked about; God is enthroned as King of the Universe and the whole world is under the control of His majestic strength. The “not yet,” which Christ spoke of, has only been initiated and it awaiting it final fulfillment at the return of Christ. Lets look at a couple of passages in the gospels to see if we can get an idea for what Christ is teaching:

Luke 17:21 (NASB95): “nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
-Here we see that the kingdom of God in some way had begun with the ministry of Christ.

Matthew 24:13-14 (NASB95): “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
-Here we see that the kingdom is part of the gospel.
-We also see that the kingdom will be consummated in the “end.”

Luke 12:32 (NASB95): “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
-Here we see that the kingdom has been given to the flock (the Church).

Matthew 26:29 (NASB95): “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
-Here we see that Christ will return again in this kingdom.

So from just these few passages we can see that Christ initiated this kingdom through his earthly ministry. He did this by fulfilling the Scriptures and creating salvation through the gospel. Through this the father has given this kingdom to the sheep that are saved by the gospel of Christ. This kingdom already exists in the sense that Christ has completed his earthly ministry. However, this kingdom cannot be completely realized until God has called all of His sheep around the world. It is at that time that Christ will return and his sheep will have fellowship with their shepherd. During this time Christ will sit on a literal throne and visibly reign as king for one thousand years (Zechariah 14:9-16; Revelation 20:1-7; & 22:5). The Lord reigns over the earth now, and it is the hope of the Church and the promise of God that Christ will return as king and reign visibly for a thousand years. This will be the visible manifestation of the current invisible reign of God.

The Lord’s majestic and strong reign over the world is firmly established, and “is everlasting.” We can be assured that the Lord’s reign will never end because we know that it never begun. God’s reign is intrinsic in His character. As A.W. Pink put it, “Divine Sovereignty simply means that God is God.” Since God had no beginning, He just was, so too was his sovereignty. This is evidenced by the fact that He created the universe. This means that before the world began he had the authority to decide to create the world. This is no upstart sovereignty. Scripture tells us that God was there before the beginning (Genesis 1:1), and thus His existence is not dependent upon anything else. All other creatures depend on something to sustain their lives. With God, however, there is no such need. Here the Psalmist says that not only was God’s “throne…established from of old,” but also that “[He] is from everlasting.” God has always existed, and His existence is not dependent upon anything else. Just as He existed before anything else came into being, so he will continue to exist independent of everything else. As we are about to see in the following verse we never have to worry about an opposing king defeating our king and taking His throne. The Lord Reigns.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Psalm 93: The Lord Reigns

posted by paul

Augustine, one of the great theologians in church history, was once walking along the beach greatly perplexed by the doctrine of the Trinity. He could not grasp the truth of the triune nature of God. Because he could not fully understand this doctrine he was tempted to reject it. As he continued to walk along the beach he came upon a little boy playing on the beach. As he watched the child, he saw him run to the water with a seashell, fill it with water, and then return and pour the water into a small hole that he had dug in the sand.
“What are you doing, my little man?” asked Augustine.
“Oh,” the boy replied, “I am trying to put the ocean into this hole.”
Augustine smiled at the little boy’s faith in the face of the impossibility of such a task. Then he suddenly realized that when it came to God he was guilty of trying to do the same thing. “That is what I am trying to do with God,” the saint later confessed. “I see it now. Standing on the shores of time, I am trying to get into this little finite mind things which are infinite.”
Augustine came to the conclusion that the nature of God is not dependant upon what Augustine thinks of Him. Rather, the nature of God is revealed to the mind of Augustine through Scripture.

We must be very careful about how we think about God. Our thoughts about God, our Theology Proper, must come from what God has said about Himself. This means that every thought we have about God must come from Scripture. A very good place to start when it comes to thinking about God is Psalm 93. In this Psalm we see the supremacy of God, and the sufficiency of His word outlined. We cannot be certain what the historical context of this Psalm is; we have no author, or heading for this Psalm. As we make our way through this passage I think that we will see that his Psalm was written in one of two contexts: 1) The nation of Israel was facing an immanent threat from an enemy, and they needed to be reassured to place their trust in the Lord. 2) The Lord delivered the nation of Israel from one of its enemies, and this Psalm was a song of praise. We cannot be sure of either of these, but we can be sure that a proper understanding of this passage will provided the child of God with great comfort and assurance.

The Lord reigns. It is His very nature, which included majesty and strength, to reign. And as we will see later in this passage no matter what challenges are brought against His rule the Lord remains unchanged. The Lord’s reign is a very important idea to understand. The word here that is translated as reigns has the idea of a king on His throne. This should not have been unfamiliar to Israel; this was the precise conclusion of Moses after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15:18). Yahweh was the great warrior (Exodus 15:3) who defeated the so-called god Pharaoh and reigned as King over Israel. What an assurance it must have been for Israel to know that Yahweh reigned over them. No matter what enemy they faced, and no matter what earthly king they had, Yahweh reigned. This is the very nature of God. Any idea of God that is less than Him reigning over the entire universe is wrong. When we do not attribute to God the power which belongs to Him, as we ought, we are rebelling against His authority. To view God as less sovereign than He has revealed Himself to be in Scripture is the source of much unnecessary fear and anxiety. This was the point that Jesus made in Matthew 6:25-34. Our God reigns and for us to think any differently is not only wrong, but it is the source of much anxiety and fear.

Not only does our God reign, but He does so with majesty and strength. The Psalmist writes “He is clothed with majesty.” He is not clothed with the emblems of majesty, but with majesty itself. Everything that surrounds Him is majestic. He does not need robes, or rings, or sashes, or even a crown to identify Himself as a King. His majesty does not flow from his outer clothing. His majesty flows from His very nature. Let me show you what I mean by contrasting two separate uses of this same Hebrew word (גֵּאוּת gē˒ût) for majesty taken from the book of Isaiah. First, In Isaiah 12:5 the same word for majesty is translated “excellent things.” So, one place that we can see God’s majesty is in the excellent things that He has done. Since the cross references for the excellent things that God has done include the whole Bible, I will let you just look around at this world that God has created to see an example of God’s majesty. The next use of this word that we will look at is found in Isaiah 28:1-3. Here the word is translated as “proud,” and signifies man’s imitation majesty represented by a crown. Man needs something to make himself appear majestic; however the Lord’s majesty is who He is. This is why He told Moses to tell the people that “I Am” had sent him (Exodus 3:14). If that had been an earthly king he would have had to send his insignia, or some proof of his authority. In contrast the Lord’s exhibition of majesty was Himself.

The Psalmist goes on to say that not only is the King known by His majesty, but also by His strength. C.H. Spurgeon put is this way, “His Garments of Glory are not his only array, He wears strength also as his girdle.” It is important at this point to say that the Lord is always strong and majestic, but at times He displays this power in a special way to His people and thus it is said that He is clothed in Majesty and strength. God’s sovereign strength is one of the fundamental truths of the Bible. Although from a human perspective it may appear to be otherwise, God is in control over all things. Unfortunately, there is another image of God that our culture has created. It is a god, as Steve Lawson puts it, that is "made in our own image." We seldom hear about the sovereign strength of God, and men live as if there is no God at all. Too often people talk about God as if he has been dethroned. Many speak of God as if he has put Himself in subordination to the will of His own creation. Is this codependent god, who is always trying to come up with solutions for earthly problems and all too often falling short, the God of the Bible? No, God is not limited by the will of man. God reigns in majesty and strength. This proper biblical view of God must be a constant theme for our lives, and especially for our prayers. We must pray to Him knowing that He is the sovereign ruler of the universe. If we do not view God properly then we will make Him out to be in our own image. Thankfully the God who reigns over the universe is not like me.

Don’t make God out to be that weak by your thoughts and actions. Run to Him in prayer, and in your deepest time of fear and anxiety remember that “the Lord Reigns.”

*Expect to see more on Psalm 93 in the coming days*

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Plumbing the Depths with Carey Hardey

Carey Hardey
Senior Associate Pastor
Grace Community Church

In addition to his responsibilities as senior associate pastor, he shepherds a Sunday-morning fellowship group. He also teaches at our annual Shepherds’ Conference, as well as teaching on various issues related to biblical counseling, marriage, and the Christian life at other churches and Bible conferences. Carey is also an adjunct professor at The Master’s College and Seminary. Carey graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 1977. In 1984 he sold his pharmacy to be on the staff of a church in Texas as Christian school principal and minister of music. Carey came to California in 1990 to study at The Master’s Seminary and graduated with a master of divinity degree. He and his wife, Pam, have four children.1

Last week Carey Hardey gave a seminar on counseling titled plumbing the depths. Here are the highlights:

Big Picture Issues to look for in counseling

1. Wrong Goals
2. Lust
3. Wrong Priotities
4. Fear of Man
5. Love of Self
6. Wrong View of God
7. Lack of Trust in God
8. Pride
9. Blameshifting

These are some major issues that will present themselves in actions like anger, depression, etc.
If you are anything like me you have repented about each and everyone of these issues.

Here are some steps to pick up on these issues:

1. Gather Data
2. Make a Biblical Interpretation
3. Be Familiar with Scripture
4. Give Biblical Answers

1. Bio taken from the Grace Community Church Web page.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Thought From Machen

Instead of notes from the Shepherd's Conference I would like to share this quote from J. Gresham Machen:

"The fellows are in my room now on the last Sunday night, smoking the cigars and eating the oranges which it has been the greatest delight I ever had to provide whenever possible. My idea of delight is a Princeton room full of fellows smoking. When I think what a wonderful aid tobacco is to friendship and Christian patience, I have sometimes regretted that I never began to smoke."1

I am sure that this was before modern medicine figured out the dangers of smoking. Was there even a "surgeon general" back then to let people know how dangerous everything is for them? Or, maybe the vitamin c in the oranges helps with the smoke inhalation.

*Thanks to Joel Kent for finding this quote and sending it my way.*

1. Ned. B. Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir
(Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987, originally published in 1954, 17 years after Machen's death), p. 506.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Joy of God

posted by Paul

On Wednesday night of this Year’s Shepherd’s Conference John MacArthur preached in Luke 15. This sermon, on the Prodigal son, is one of the finest examples of expository preaching that I have ever encountered. Pastor MacArthur demonstrated exactly what Steve Lawson preached about from Nehemiah 8. The force behind MacArthur’s sermon was “The Joy of God in the Recovery of Sinners.” This is quite an amazing thought! God finds joy in our salvation. In fact, this is why he created the world; that we might be restored to him and bring him glory through His joy. As we read through this parable we must note that Jesus’ comments were directed at the Pharisees and Scribes who were grumbling at the presence of sinners and tax collectors.

“The Joy of God is in the Recovery of Sinners”
John MacArthur
Luke 15

vss. 11-12a A Shameful Request
-The younger son shames his father.
-In essence he told his father that he could not wait until he was dead.

vss. 12b A Shameful Response
-The father gave into his son’s ridiculous request.
-By giving his son this much freedom he is heaping shame onto himself.
(Notice that the older brother is nowhere to be found)

vs. 13 A Shameful Rebellion
-“gathered everything together” he turned his inheritance into cash fast
-It was a cheap fast sale at a discount price.
-He went into a Gentile land; an unclean place.
-For this boy they probably would have had a full fledged funeral.
-He squandered his money on prostitutes (vs. 30)
-He fed swine; this would have been an outrage. This was not his employment; the man in the field was just trying to get rid of him. No one even paid him.
-The lesson is that sin is this outrageously rebellious to God. Jesus invented the ultimate sinner for this story.

vs. 17 A Shameful Repentance
-The starting point of repentance is an accurate assessment of one’s position.
-He remembered his father’s goodness and faith in his father’s mercy.
-He understood that he had sinned as high as heaven.
-He was going to repay his father by working for him.
-The people of the town would have been obliged to publicly scorn the son upon his arrival into the town.

vs. 20 A Shameful Reconciliation
-Pharisees: “How weak is this guy?”
-He runs through the town, which would have been a disgrace because is would have revealed himself to the entire town, in order to take the shame that the son would have received from the town.
-The Pharisees could not understand this because they didn’t understand grace.
-The son didn’t even mention earning reconciliation because he had already received reconciliation.
-God finds joy in the recovery of one lost son just like the father found joy in the recovery of his son.

vs. 22 A Shameful Rejoicing
-The best robe was the father’s robe usually reserved from the oldest son’s wedding.
-The ring gave him the full authority of the father.
-The father held the party to celebrate his own joy.

vss. 25-26 A Shameful Reaction
-The fact that the older son was in field and had no idea what was going on showed that he had no relationship with the father, nor did he care about his father’s joy. This was probably the first person that the Pharisees understood.

vs. 28 A Shameful Reply
-Instead of making the son go into the party he pleaded with his son to go into the party.
-The older son had no interest in the father’s joy.
-He attacked his father’s grace, but his father still responded gently.

Even though we do not really have an ending to this story- the son’s reaction to the father is not recorded- we do know what would have happened. The oldest son would have taken a piece of fire wood and beat his father to death. The reason that we know this is because the oldest son represents that Pharisees, and the Father represents God. The Pharisees did not understand grace, and so the killed Jesus.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Steve Lawson on Preaching

posted by Paul
As promised today I will begin to post some of my notes from the Shepherd’s conference. This past week was an incredible week because the Word of God was proclaimed. There was a common theme that came up among the keynote speaker, particularly in the Q&A session. The theme was that they did not know anything that someone else had not taught them. Particularly they did not know anything except for what Scripture had taught them. This is an honorable goal, to never have an original thought. So many time men see the ministry as their ministry. They think that if they can just come up with a new dynamic approach, or reduplicate something that someone else has done they will be successful. The problem is that we never see this model in Scripture. Think of the life of Moses. His job was not to come up with inventive ways to motivate the people, and inspire them to follow God. Moses was the mouthpiece of God; his job was to proclaim the Word’s of God. Moses did not have a “dynamic” approach to ministry that focused on putting people in the pews. Think about what one of the most well attended services in Moses’ life was.

Exodus 32:1-10 (NASB95)

1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
2 Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”
3 Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron.
4 He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
5 Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.”
6 So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
7 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom ayou brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.
8 “They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ ”
9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are ban obstinate people.
10 “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”

Aaron had a new idea!

The point of all this is that we need to give people the Word. Whether you’re a pastor, husband, father, wife, mother, or whatever your ministry your primary tool must be the Revealed Word of God. This is exactly what God has called us to do. Look at one of the greatest biblical examples of this type of expository ministry.

Nehemiah 8:1-12 (NASB95)

1 And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel.
2 Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.
3 He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.
4 Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam on his left hand.
5 Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place.
8 They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
9 Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.
10 Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved."
12 All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.

Ezra preached the Word to the people. This is exactly what Steve Lawson did on Friday night. My recommendation would be to find the audio. I will, however, provide the notes.

Bring the Book
Nehemiah 8

vs. 1 The Call for Biblical Preaching
-Every reformation or awakening begins with the Word!
-Ezra was a man given to the study of the Word (See Ezra 7).

vss. 2-8 The Character of Biblical Preaching (5 Traits Every Sermon Should Have)
1. A Biblical Reading (vs. 3)
2. A Lengthy Treatment (vs. 4)
3. An Authoritative Posture (vss. 5-6)
4. A God Exalting Thrust (vs. 6)
5. An Explanation of the Text (vs. 7-8)

vss. 9-12 The Consequences of Biblical Preaching
-Their first reaction to Biblical Preaching was repentance, not fulfillment (etc.)!
- Once the recognized their sin they were able to understand God’s Grace.

Even if you are not a Preacher you can see the impact of this passage; call for the Word to be taught. If you are Preaching then Preach the Word!
If you are unfamiliar with Steve Lawson he is the Preaching Pastor at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. He is a faithful brother who has been through a lot during his ministry. You can learn more about his ministry at the CFBC website.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Some Thoughts on God

After a few days at the Shepherd's Confernce in Sun Valley California I am energized to for the work of the ministry. On the plane back to FL I had some time to just collect a few thoughts on God based on the lectures this week. Hopefully next week I will post some of my notes from some notable sermons. Look for:
-One of the greatest messages I have ever heard from Steve Lawson.

-Phil Johnson's second look at Fundamentalism.

-John MacArthur on the Prodigal son.

- R.C. Sproul on the Wrath of God.

- Al Mohler on the job description of a Preacher.

For now here are my thoughts:

The Knowledge of God is the leading cause of which everything else in ourl ives is the resulting affect. Who we believe God to be impacts every area of our lives. Our attitudes, actions, thoughts, relationships, and ultimate destiny will all be determined by our knowledge of who God is and what He has done. With som uch on the the line we need to be precise in our search of truth. To be precise we must acquire our knowledge of God through God's revelation. God has revealed to us every truth about himself that we need for salvation. God has allowed us to look in on the inner working of the Trinity, see His creative power, experience His grace, and so much more.

Despite this self revelation we don't understand God, and many times, we construct our view of God in our own image (Steve Lawson's book is very helpful in this matter). This sin of idolatry is the foundation for man's sin. In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan because they lowered their view of God to something that they could attain. If they had had a proper view of the would have known that equality with God is unattainable (Unlike the first Adam, the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, understood who God was and lowered himself to the form of a man to die for men.) In light of this propensity towards idolatry the second commandment becomes vey important.

Exodus 20:4-6(NASB95)
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, cvisiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to athousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

When we dont's know who God is we try and replace His revealed plan for liturgy and rituals. Men take the infinite knowledge of God and trade is for the glory of a bird!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Shepherd's Conference

posted by Paul

Today has been too full a day at the Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church (The Mother Ship) to do any posting. I have also been eagerly waiting an update from my parents who are in China (in the process of adopting our new sister Grace Elyse; see sidebar). Hopefully they will check in soon. We are praying fervently for them.