Monday, January 30, 2006

Adam and Jesus

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. - Genesis 3:4-6

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
- Philippians 2:5-8

"The contrast of Jesus with Adam is striking since Adam in the garden strove to be equal to God and thus rejected God's lordship in eating of the fruit of the tree. Christ, on the contrary, though possessing equality with God (in this respect he differs from Adam), did not use his status as a means of enriching himself. Indeed, precisely because he was in the form of God and was equal to God, he refused to use his position as a means of self-aggandizement. He used his status as a platform for giving and self-surrender, not as a bridgehead for praise and self-exaltation. The cross, not the crown, was his path to glory." (Schreiner; Paul, Apostle of God's Glory in Christ; p. 172)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Show yourself a man

Southern Seminary has an excellent quarterly magazine called The Tie. The Winter 2005 edition is entitled "Show Yourself a Man" (taken from 1 Kings 2:2) and focuses on the topic of biblical masculinity and other related topics. It contains several great articles written by Al Mohler and other seminary professors. The leading article is from Randy Stinson, who paints an encouraging and helpful picture of biblical masculinity. Here's an excerpt from his article on ways one can cultivate this masculinity:
Do the hardest task first
Attacking your hardest task of the day without delay will build your resistance to passivity. Waiting until the end of the day only reinforces your sinful tendencies toward passivity.

Make the hard phone call first
While this is similar to the first suggestion, it deals more with passivity within interpersonal relationships. Some men are willing to do the hard task first, but avoid difficult situations involving other people.

Run to the battle
One only needs to consider the life of the Apostle Paul to see that conflict is a regular feature of the Christian life. Men who think all conflict should be avoided, or who refuse to engage with those who would harm the body of Christ or their family, not only model passivity but fail in the area of protection.

Do your work now as opposed to later
From term papers to tax filing, the man who is cultivating biblical masculinity will not allow these things to rule him. He will exercise dominion over them by doing them in a timely manner.

Keep your domain in order
While most of us on occasion have a messy desk or car trunk, a life that is characterized by disorder is evidence of passivity. Your home, dorm room, garage, office and car should bear the mark of your masculinity as you subdue it and keep it in order.

Kill a bear or a lion
In other words, do something that is a challenge for you. It may actually be to kill a bear or a lion, but it may be a health challenge like running a triathlon or a marathon. It may be something as basic as riding a roller coaster or as edgy as snorkeling with sharks. It may involve debating the atheist at work or starting a Bible study at home. It may mean you need to finally share the gospel with your lost friend or deal with a family conflict that you have allowed to go on for too long.
Read the article here.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Praising God with lyre and sword

A meditation on Psalm 149
1 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.

2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
When Israel demanded that Samuel find them a human king, God punished them for rejecting Him as King. Yet, isn't it interesting how this psalm was written during the reign of a king, namely King David. A good king will always point his people to worship the true King.
3 Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
To praise God is to be glad in Him and to rejoice in Him (vs.2). This is the heart of what it means to praise God. The actions of singing and dancing and playing music (vs.3) are different outward expressions of this inward reality.
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.
And amazingly, the reason we are even able to enjoy God is because we have a God who likewise takes pleasure in His people (vs.4a). But lest you think that His pleasure in us is due to some innate quality in us, see that it is God who beautifies His people with salvation (vs.4b). Left to ourselves, we are marred and afflicted by sin and rebellion, but Christ washes us and sanctifies us with the water of His word and presents us to Himself as beautiful and holy, without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:25-27).
5 Let the godly ones exult in glory;
Let them sing for joy on their beds.

6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
Having been saved from our afflictions by God and brought into a relationship with Him, it is supremely fitting that the praise of God is ever to be in our mouths and in our hearts.

Now, when I read this in my Bible this morning, the psalm ended on this note on the current page and continued on the next page as follows:
And a two-edged sword in their hand,

7 To execute vengeance on the nations
And punishment on the peoples,

8 To bind their kings with chains
And their nobles with fetters of iron,

9 To execute on them the judgment written;
This is an honor for all His godly ones.
Praise the LORD!
I had to check twice to see that I didn't skip a page! How in the world does this part of the psalm fit with the rest? What does this section have to do with praising God? I had to think about this for quite some time, but in the end, this is what I came up with:

Praising God in a fallen world means that it is not only to be an occasion for celebration, but also an occasion for war. The children of Israel lived in a land surrounded by pagan nations that worshiped false gods and sacrificed their children and promoted wickedness. And just like the saints of old, if we are to love God in such a world, this will not only mean rejoicing in the truth, but hating evil (1 Cor. 13:6). In praising God, we must take up not only the timbrel and lyre, but also the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Praising God in a world of sin requires not only putting on the garments of praise (Is. 61:3), but also putting on the armor of God (Eph. 6:11) and waging war against sin and injustice and oppression and standing before kings and governors to bear witness to the truth (Mk. 13:9). And praising God in this world will be expressed not only in music and dancing, but very possibly in suffering and even the laying down of your life.

But the promise of the word of God is this: the life of praise to God will not be silenced by the grave, but will one day be raised again and will sit on a throne with Christ and execute judgment on the world with Him (vs.9, 1 Cor. 6:2). And this also will be to the praise of His name.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blog thoughts

Mark Dever comments on the lightness of blogs, and I couldn't agree more.

Added: Russell Moore also shares his thoughts on some of the dangers of blogging. Good stuff as always.

My take on all this: As Christians, as with all things (including how we spend our time and what we read), we must be discerning.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Good day for reading

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Speaking of sermons and songs...

In our media-saturated culture today, there is a movement within the church to place a greater emphasis on music, multimedia, drama, and other forms of art over the preaching of the Word of God. This makes sense, since we are immersed in a culture that values subjectivity over solid, objective truth. Now, there's nothing wrong with art itself, but when it takes a function that it was never intended to fulfill, we are left with confusion.
“Even though it is true that every kind of nonverbal expression possesses uniqueness, it is likewise true that no form of nonverbal expression can do what words can do. A jazz riff can no more articulate a methodology for day trading than a Bach fugue can explain substitutionary atonement. So every form of nonverbal expression, instead of going beyond what words can do, simply goes its own way, just as words go their way in doing what no other form of expression can do. And since truth is the most important thing that we can articulate, and since words are a better vehicle for this than any other existing form of expression, the word remains preeminent among all other forms.” (p. 193) - Harold Best, Unceasing Worship

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Favorite audio from 2005

A lot of people post about their favorite books, so why not share my top three favorite sermons and albums from 2005 (I've included how long each sermon is so you can have an idea of how much time to allocate for listening to one):

Sermons:
The Suffering of Christ and the Sovereignty of God (44:27) by John Piper - 10/9/2005 - Desiring God National Conference - One of the most powerful sermons I have heard from John Piper yet, where he describes how suffering is an integral part of God's eternal purpose of displaying the glory of His grace.

Beyond a Veggie Tales Gospel: The Bones of Joseph, the Kingdom of Christ, and the Story We Tell (34:04) by Russell Moore - 8/25/05 - SBTS Chapel Service - Dr. Moore talks about how important (and joyful) it is for our preaching and ministry to see our Christian lives as an ongoing part of redemptive history.

The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister... and How to Avoid It (37:42) by Don Whitney - 9/15/05 - SBTS Chapel Service - For all those who are in some type of vacational ministry or are contemplating in being in one, this is a must-hear (and even if you're not, it is still a powerful sermon). Dr. Whitney reminds us of the importance of spiritual disciplines and the joys that await those who practice them, and the perils for those who neglect them.
Albums:
Worship God Live by Sovereign Grace Ministries - These guys continue putting out rich, God-centered worship songs and this album is no exception. Favorite song on this album is God Moves, which is William Cowper's famous hymn set to new music.

New Irish Hymns #4: Hymns for the Life of the Church by Keith and Kristin Getty - This couple played in a concert here at SBTS this past fall along with Stuart Townend (In Christ Alone, How Deep the Father's Love for Us). They are supported by a local church back at home (somewhere in Europe) so that they can devote all their time to writing new, powerful, gospel-saturated, Christ-exalting hymns for the church. Favorite hymn on this album: The Power of the Cross

The Far Country by Andrew Peterson - Not as great as Love and Thunder but still very, very good. Andrew Peterson remains (in my opinion) the best Christian lyricist these days and in this album, he uses those talents to sing about our journey on earth to the far country. Little Boy Heart Alive and Lay Me Down are worth the price of the album.

Monday, January 09, 2006

An educational genealogy

My Christian Philosophy professor passed out this handout today:
The Distinguished Educational Genealogy
Of the students at
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Showing a direct line to John Calvin (1509-1564)
(originally partially compiled by Richard Gardiner, Class of 1995,
at Princeton Theological Seminary)
Dr. JAMES PARKER, III is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, who, while a student at Princeton, sat at the feet of:
Dr. BRUCE M. METZGER, who as a graduate of the seminary (class of 1933), was a student of:
Dr. JOHN ALEXANDER MACKAY, who was also a graduate of the seminary (class of 1915), was a student of:
Dr. BENJAMIN B. WARFIELD, who was also a graduate of the seminary (1876), being a student of:
Dr. CHARLES HODGE, a Princeton Seminary graduate (1819) who, for many years sat at the feet of:
Dr. ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER, who was the pupil of:
WILLIAM GRAHAM, a graduate of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) in the year 1773, and as such, was under the tutelage of:
Dr. SAMUEL STANHOPE SMITH, who was himself tutored in the same College by:
Dr. JONATHAN EDWARDS, JR., who obviously sat at the feet of:
JONATHAN EDWARDS, the third president of Princeton, being educated at both Yale (A.M., 1773) and as an apprentice to his grandfather:
SOLOMON STODDARD, of Northampton, Massachusetts, who was educated at Harvard College (A.B., 1662) at the feet of:
Dr. CHARLES CHAUNCY, an immigrant to this country, having been trained at Trinity College, Cambridge University, at the feet of:
ARCHBISHOP JAMES USSHER, the celebrated Hebraic scholar who was a pupil of:
WALTER TRAVERS, the Puritan divine at Christ’s College, Cambridge (an associate of Thomas Cartwright and William Perkins) who traveled to Geneva to come under the instruction of:
THEODORE BEZA, the heir of the Reformed movement of his mentor and friend:
JOHN CALVIN.
As I consider this amazing heritage that I have joined, I am reminded of Hebrews 13:7-8:
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
The reason I can imitate the faith of these heroes is because Jesus Christ is always and forever faithful and unchanging. May He grant me the grace to be faithful to the God of my educational forefathers.

Side note for my friend Dan: Before you leave a comment about the large number of Presbyterian theologians in this list, I can also take the latter part through a more Baptist route. =)

All of the professors teaching at SBTS today who graduated from SBTS sat under the teaching of:
Dr. JOHN PAULHILL, who was a student of:
Dr. A.T. ROBERTSON, the famous Greek professor, having studied under:
Dr. JAMES P. BOYCE, who was one of the founders of Southern Seminary, having sat under:
Dr. CHARLES HODGE.