By Faith

by Keith & Kristyn Getty

By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God’s own hand
A place where peace and justice reign

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave

By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight

Jellybean Art

“22 months, 1,357 hours, 30 people, 2 ladders, 1 still camera, 288,000 jelly beans.” All this, for one music video.

And here you have it folks – In Your Arms – Kina Grannis (Official Music Video):

Posted in Art

Why We Must Be Unapologetically Theological

Kevin DeYoung wrote the following at his blog and agree especially with his conclusion that “Churches will still come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But “atheological,” or worse yet “anti-theological,” should not be one of them.”:

If I’m not mistaken, our church has a reputation for being quite theological. I know this is why many people have come to our church. And I imagine it’s why some people have left, or never checked us out in the first place. But no church should apologize for talking about and loving theology. Now–and this is an important caveat–if we are arrogant with our theology, or if our doctrinal passion is just about intellectual gamesmanship, or we are all out of proportioned in our affections for less important doctrines, then may the Lord rebuke us. We should not be surprised theology gets a bad name in such circumstances.

But when it comes to thinking on, rejoicing in, and building a church upon sound biblical truth, we should all long for a richly theological church.

I could cite many reasons for preaching theologically and many reasons for wanting to pastor a congregation that loves theology. Let me mention six:

1. God has revealed himself to us in his word and given us his Spirit that we might understand the truth. Obviously, you don’t need to master every theme in Scripture in order to be a Christian. God is gracious to save lots of us with lots of gaps in our understanding. But if we have a Bible, not to mention an embarrassment of riches when it comes to resources in English, why wouldn’t we want to understand as much of God’s self-revelation as possible? Theology is getting more of God. Don’t you want your church to know God better?

2. The New Testament places a high value on discerning truth from error. There is a deposit of truth that must be guarded. False teaching must be placed out of bounds. Good teaching must be promoted and defended. This is not the concern of some soulless Ph.D. candidate wasting away in front of microfiche. This is the passion of the Apostles and the Lord Jesus himself who commended the church at Ephesus for being intolerant of false teachers and hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans.

3. The ethical commands of the New Testament are predicated on theological propositions. So many of Paul’s letters have a twofold structure. The beginning chapters lay out doctrine and the latter chapters exhort us to obedience. Doctrine and life are always connected in the Bible. It’s in view of God’s mercies, in view of all the massive theological realities of Romans 1-11, that we are called to lay down our lives as living sacrifices in Romans 12. Know doctrine, know life. No doctrine, no life.

4. Theological categories enable us to more fully and more deeply rejoice in God’s glory. Simple truths are wonderful. It is good for us to sing simple songs like “God is good. All the time!” If you sing that in sincere faith, the Lord is very pleased. But he is also pleased when we can sing and pray about how exactly he has been good to us in the plan of salvation and in the scope of salvation history. He is pleased when we can glory in the completed work of Christ, and rest in his all-encompassing providence, and marvel at his infinity and aseity, when we can delight in his holiness and mediate on his three-ness and one-ness and stand in awe at his omniscience and omnipotence. These theological categories are not meant to give us bigger heads, but bigger hearts that worship deeper and higher because of what we’ve seen in God.

5. Theology helps us more fully and more deeply rejoice in the blessings that are ours in Christ. Again, it is a sweet thing to know that Jesus saves you from your sins. There’s no better news than that in the whole world. But how much fuller and deeper will your delight be when you understand that salvation means election to the praise of God’s grace, expiation to cover your sins, propitiation to turn away divine wrath, redemption to purchase you for God, justification before the judgment seat of God, adoption into God’s family, on-going sanctification by the Spirit, and promised glorification at the end of the age? If God has given us so many varied and multi-layered blessings in Christ, wouldn’t it help you and honor him to understand what they are?

6. Even (or is it especially?) non-Christians need good theology. They may not thrill to hear a dry lecture on the ordo salutis. But who wants dry lectures on anything? If you can talk winsomely, passionately, and simply about the blessings of effectual calling, regeneration, and adoption, and how all these blessings are found in Christ, and how the Christian life is nothing more or less than being who we are in Christ, and how this means God really does want us to be true to ourselves, but ourselves as we were born again not as we were born in sin–if you give non-Christians all of this, and give it to them plainly, you’ll be giving them a whole lot of theology. And, if the Spirit of God is at work, they just might come back looking for more.

There is no reason for any church to be anything other than robustly theological. Churches will still come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But “atheological,” or worse yet “anti-theological,” should not be one of them.

A Question of Time

“Surely one of the most difficult things for us to understand about God is His eternal nature. We are limited to time. We experience reality as a series of events- past, present and future. Our language is based upon our experience of time. We have past tenses, and present tenses, and future tenses. We think in a temporal, time-based way.

But God does not exist as we do. We have seen that He is unique, and one of the greatest ways in which this is seen is His relationship with time itself. When we speak of God as eternal, what do we mean? Are we simply asserting that God has always existed and will always exist? While that may be true, God’s eternal nature is not limited to simply exhaustive existence for a very long, long time. We are speaking of God’s actually transcending the boundaries of time, of existing outside of the realm of time!

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” -Isaiah 40:28

Jehovah is the eternal, everlasting God. Yet, if He is limited to an existence within time, then we have to believe that time existed prior to God. Is time an absolute that is higher than God? Is God subservient to time? Does time exist outside of God, beyond His control, and is He limited to it? Or is time itself a creation of God, defined and directed by Him? I believe the Bible clearly teaches the latter position, despite the difficulty we have in understanding it! God is the Creator of all things, including time itself, and is therefore not bound to an existence that is marked by the “past–present–future” mode of being.

What this means is, quite obviously, mind-boggling for us creatures. God has never once predicted the future. What I mean by this is that God does not simply sit here in the present with us and, through some strange power, peer into the future so as to be able to predict future events with uncanny accuracy. No, God does not “look into the future” because He is already there! He is with the first and the last of the generations as Creator, and all that takes place in time does so at His sovereign command… God’s knowledge of the future, then, is based not upon predictive powers, but upon the simple fact that God created time, and is already present in that future that exists solely because He decreed it to be so.” – Dr. James White, God’s Sovereign Grace

Psalm 22

Psalm 22 is what theologians refer to as a Messianic Psalm. Though written by David it refers to events that transcend his own life and were fulfilled in the life, and especially the death (crucifixion) of Messiah. This is possible because as 2 Peter 1:21 tells us, “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

When Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me” two things were taking place, neither of which was contradictory. Firstly Jesus was feeling the full force of being forsaken by His Father, as sin was placed upon Him and He bore the Father’s just wrath for it in our place.

Secondly, just as in our culture, if someone were to say “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound” we know that these words are not being said at random, but we are being reminded of a familiar hymn. The Book of Psalms was the inspired song book of the Jews and for Jesus to quote the first line of Psalm 22 it was a thunderously loud message to all who heard it that He Himself was fulfilling the words of the entire Psalm as he hung there in agony on the cross.

Speaking of the Gentiles, David wrote in verse 16, “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet.” There is nothing to suggest any of this happened in the life of David, but were fulfilled around a thousand years later by Christ at the crucifixion. What is more than interesting is that when David penned these words, crucifixion was not even invented as a form of torture and death. Sceptics grope for an answer as to why David could write of such things but the believer’s confidence is that only God could have been the source of these words, which is itself a wonderful testimony to the Divine inspiration of Scripture. David was “carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

The same can be said about verse 18, when David wrote, “they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” There’s nothing to suggest this happened to David, but it did happen to Messiah and Jesus is once again alerting us to that by quoting the opening words of the Psalm. The crucifixion of Christ was not an accidental, haphazard occurence. As the early Church prayed to God in Acts 4, “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

Jesus was never more in the will of God than when He hung on the cross as our sinless sin bearing Substitute. By raising Him from the dead God testified that He was indeed His Son and validified all His claims as to what His death had accomplished. Paul tells us, He “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord..” (Romans 1:3, 4)

Watch now as Ryan Ferguson delivers a memorized dramatic recitation of Psalm 22 from the ESV Bible.

Where is your treasure?

“Many Christians dread the thought of leaving this world. Why? Because so many have stored up their treasures on earth, not in heaven. Each day brings us closer to death. If your treasures are on earth, that means each day brings you closer to losing your treasures. He who lays up treasures on earth spends his life backing away from his treasures. To him, death is loss.

He who lays up treasures in heaven looks forward to eternity; he’s moving daily toward his treasures. To him, death is gain. He who spends his life moving toward his treasures has reason to rejoice. Are you despairing or rejoicing?” – Randy Alcorn