Lead Vocal: Rebecca Elliott
Piano: Bob Kauflin
Cello: Bethany Payne
O Lamb of God, all worlds obeyed Your will
From dark and void their being came
O Lamb of God, Your glories echo still
Creation sings its Maker’s praise
Eternal God, One with the Father
Before all time You dwelt in love
Eternal God, unlike all others
Yet You descended unto us
O Lamb of God, in filthy manger lay
In humble dress You entered earth
O Lamb of God, Creator bows to save
The needy ones, helpless from birth
Incarnate Word, gift of the Father
To take our place and bear our sin
Incarnate Word led to the slaughter
You conquered death and rose again
O Lamb of God now reigning on the throne
The Judge of all, faithful and true
O Lamb of God, You’ll make Your power known
When all Your foes receive their due
Victorious King, when history’s fading
You’ll call Your Bride to take her place
Victorious King, Creation’s waiting
For Your redeemed to see Your face
Firstly, some introductory words from Dr. R. C. Sproul:
Who is Jesus? Nearly every adult person has formed some opinion of Jesus. These opinions may be superficial, uninformed, or downright heretical. The truth about Jesus, not mere opinion, matters . . . and it matters eternally.
Those who bear the name Christian profess to follow Christ as His disciples. They hold a Christology—a doctrine of Christ—that reflects their view of Christ. This Christology may be articulated implicitly or explicitly. It may represent the depth of biblical revelation and historic Christian reflection on Scripture, or it may be novel and disconnected from God’s Word. But no professing Christian lacks a Christology.
Since following Christ is central to Christianity, the church has labored for centuries to proclaim the Christ of history and Scripture, not the Christ of our imaginations. In such historic statements of faith such as the Nicene Creed, the Definition of Chalcedon, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Westminster Confession, Christians have articulated the biblical teaching on Christ.
Today these statements are often neglected and misunderstood, resulting in widespread confusion regarding the person and work of Christ. For the glory of Christ and the edification of His people, the Ligonier Statement on Christology seeks to encapsulate the historic, orthodox, biblical Christology of the Christian church in a form that is simple to confess, useful to help teach the church’s enduring faith, and able to serve as a common confession around which believers from different churches can rally for mission together. This statement is not a replacement for the church’s historic creeds and confessions but a supplement that articulates their collective teaching on who Christ is and what He has done. May Christ use it for His kingdom.
In the name of God’s Son incarnate, our Prophet, Priest, and King,
THE LIGONIER STATEMENT ON CHRISTOLOGY
We confess the mystery and wonder
of God made flesh
and rejoice in our great salvation
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
With the Father and the Holy Spirit,
the Son created all things,
sustains all things,
and makes all things new.
He became truly man,
two natures in one person.
He was born of the Virgin Mary
and lived among us.
Crucified, dead, and buried,
He rose on the third day,
ascended to heaven,
and will come again
in glory and judgement.
He kept the Law,
atoned for sin,
and satisfied God’s wrath.
He took our filthy rags
and gave us
His righteous robe.
He is our Prophet, Priest, and King,
building His church,
interceding for us,
and reigning over all things.
Jesus Christ is Lord;
we praise His holy Name forever.
Socialism Is Evil by Rick Phillips (original article found here)
In a recent blog post I urged the biblical basis for the spirituality of the church. One of the points I made is that while the church does not meddle in civil government, it most certainly may speak against social evils. Christians and pastors can and should speak out on evils such as racism, government sponsored torture, or, in this case, socialism.
I bring up socialism because I have noticed that it is becoming fashionable for Christians to denounce capitalism and laud socialism as a more biblical alternative. I get how this happens. Under capitalism, sin wreaks its usual havoc and the system is blamed for the injustice common to fallen human society. There are biblical principles that seem to push back against capitalism – such as concern for the well-being of others – which really should be addressed to how people use the system rather than the system itself. To be sure, capitalism itself provides no tonic for the disease of sin. Moreover, Christians should be discerning enough to scorn the adolescent egotism of Ayn Rand-style capitalism and realize the need for government intervention against capitalistic abuses. But in reacting against these, Christians should also have enough discernment not to endorse a system so inherently evil as socialism.
So, biblically speaking, why is socialism evil? Let me suggest three reasons:
1. Because socialism is a system based on stealing;
2. Because socialism is an anti-work system; and
3. Because socialism concentrates the power to do evil.
Let’s look at each of these briefly:
1. Because socialism is a system based on stealing. The whole point of socialism is for the government to seize control of private property, mainly involving the proceeds of peoples’ work, in order to give it to others. (Note the compulsory aspect of socialism, which so differs from voluntary forms of communalism.) This activity is the very thing pronounced as evil by the 8th Commandment: “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15).
Throughout the Bible it is assumed that individuals have responsibility and authority over the property in their possession. For instance, even when Peter was accusing Ananias of being greedy and dishonest, the apostle admitted the man’s right to dispose of his personal property (Acts 5:4). While there is a legitimate basis for government taxation, the simple taking of one’s possessions in order to give them to others is not one of them. Socialism is evil because it inherently involves stealing.
2. Because socialism is an anti-work system. Socialism promises to give a blessed life for free. Today, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders promises to give free education, free health care, and free vacation time, etc. (Of course, since government does not create wealth, these things are only free as the money to give them is taken from others.)
As I listen to Senator Sanders, I wonder what incentive there would be to work hard. Why would I put myself through the ordeal of discipline, sacrifice, and sweat, much less risk-taking business endeavors, if I can have a wonderful life without working for it?
In contrast to the ethos of socialism, the Bible is explicitly pro-work. Paul writes: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28). Here, the apostle not only urges selflessness with one’s possession, but explicitly denounces the socialist ethos. “Work!” the Bible says (2 Thess. 3:10). And on the basis of your own work you should provide for your needs and you should voluntary support the church and others in need.
3. Because socialism concentrates the power to do evil. The Bible’s concern about human sinfulness (and its general approach of de-centralizing power) argues strongly against socialism. Under capitalism, the individual has discretion to dispose of his or her wealth, which in some cases involves vast resources. This may be done virtuously or sinfully depending on the character of the individual owner. Under socialism, however, a small number of government masters has control over almost all of the resources of the entire society. Unless one believes that politicians are inherently more virtuous than private citizens (and where one would get such an idea is a mystery to me), then this concentration of power is certain to work extraordinary amounts of evil. Under capitalism, access to scarce resources is determined by how much money one has, and one’s money generally reflects the market’s value on his or her work contributions. This will sometimes seem unfair, depending on one’s perspective. But under socialism, access to scarce resources is based on government favor. This structure virtually reduces the society to slavery, eventually impoverishes everyone, and unfailingly promotes a culture of corruption.
For these biblically-based reasons, I would urge Christians to refrain from giving praise (and political support) to socialism and candidates who promote it. Alongside the Bible are the lessons of history. To students of such arcane history as the 20th Century, the prospect of socialism is chilling. There is a reason why some Americans want to erect a wall to keep illegal immigrants out, whereas socialist countries have built their walls to keep people in. Socialism is a nightmare to those who actually experience it, whereas capitalism is deemed a paradise – without Christ, a false, materialistic paradise, to be sure – to those trying to get in.
Capitalism does not offer salvation: only Jesus can deliver us from our sins. Socialism, on the other hand, is a manifestly evil system from which we should pray to be delivered.
Rather than Paul being immediately sent to Rome, God ordained that a regional king named Agrippa would hear his dramatic conversion testimony. While perhaps no other Christian encounters the same observable phenomena in their conversion, it is never any less dramatic.
In this excerpt from his teaching series, What Did Jesus Do?, Dr. R.C. Sproul explains what is meant by the active obedience of Jesus.
I don’t think there’s any more important text in all the New Testament that defines the work of Jesus than this one. That Jesus was sent to fulfill all righteousness. And what that meant to the Jew was to obey every jot and tittle of the Law. Because now Jesus is not acting in His baptism for Himself, but for His people. And if His people are required to keep the Ten Commandments, He keeps the Ten Commandments. If His people are now required to submit to this baptismal ritual, He submits to it in their behalf. Because the redemption that is brought by Christ is not restricted to His death on the cross.
We’ve seen that in the work of redemption God didn’t send Jesus to earth on Good Friday and say, “Die for the sins of your people and that will take care of it.” No. Jesus not only had to die for our sins, but He had to live for our righteousness. If all Jesus did was die for your sins, that would remove all of your guilt, and that would leave you sinless in the sight of God, but not righteous. You would be innocent, but not righteous because you haven’t done anything to obey the Law of God which is what righteousness requires.
So we have a doctrine in theology that refers to the active obedience of Jesus, as distinguished from the passive obedience of Jesus. And this doctrine is in great dispute right now particularly among dispensational thinkers, which I find extremely, extremely unsettling. The passive obedience of Christ refers to His willingness to submit to the pain that is inflicted upon Him by the Father on the cross in the atonement. He passively receives the curse of God there. The active obedience refers to His whole life of obeying the Law of God whereby He qualifies to be the Savior. He qualifies to be the Lamb without blemish. He qualifies for the song, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,” through His total righteousness. He fulfills the Law’s demands, and if you remember the covenant with Moses, everybody who fulfills the Law receives the blessing, those who disobey the Law receive the curse.
What does Jesus do? He obeys the Law perfectly, receives the blessing, and not the curse. But there’s a double imputation that we will look at later at the cross, where my sin is transferred to His account, my sin is carried over and laid upon Him in the cross. But in our redemption, His righteousness is imputed to us—which righteousness He wouldn’t have if He didn’t live this life of perfect obedience. So what I’m saying to you is that His life of perfect obedience is just as necessary for our salvation as His perfect atonement on the cross. Because there’s double imputation. My sin to Him, His righteousness to me. So that, that is what the Scripture is getting at when it says Jesus is our righteousness.
Singleness – The Biblical Guidelines (continued) (at this link)
Gospel Community, Singleness, Marriage and Family
The church is to be an alternate city (Matt.5:14-16), alternate nation (1 Peter 2:9), even a ‘new humanity’ (Eph.2:15). It’s to be a place where the world can see what a society would look like if Christ was the ultimate value rather than sex, money, power, or some other idols. (A corporate idol is often called a ‘power’ in the New Testament (NT), which is defined as a good thing shaping a society in a bad way because it has been given idolatrous ultimate value.) It’s not enough to discuss Christian living in terms of individual ethics only. We also ask how as a community lives out the ‘gospel-values’ corporately, creating a society that reflects those priorities.
All studies show that in western cultures the percentage of single adults is growing. In 2000 the census showed that 48% of all adult householders were unmarried (up from 42% in 1990.) Center city areas are heavily single and churches like Redeemer will be largely filled with single Christians who must find a way to conduct their relationships in community so as to reflect the ‘new humanity’ created by the gospel.
A. THE GOODNESS OF THE SINGLE LIFE (The non-idolatry of marriage)
Paul’s weird passage on singleness
Paul says “Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. What I mean is that the time is short.” (1 Cor 7:27-28) This passage is very confusing on its surface. First, this view of marriage seems at profound variance with the exalted picture of marriage in Ephesians 5:21ff. Was Paul just having a bad day when he wrote this? Second, his view of marriage seems to have been conditioned by a conviction that Jesus was coming back any day (“The time is short”). Doesn’t history show that he was wrong?
‘Kingdom Theology’ Applied to Singleness
But immediately after this passage Paul writes: “From now on, those who have wives should live as if they had none. Those who mourn as if they did not. Those who are happy as if they were not. Those who buy as if it was not theirs. Those who use the things of the world as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Cor. 7:29-31) Here we see that behind “the time is short” phrase is a much more sophisticated view of history. Paul (as Jesus) taught the ‘overlap’ of the ages. The kingdom of God–God’s power to renew the whole of creation–has broken into the old world (‘aeon’ or ‘age’) through Christ’s first coming. The kingdom is here in a substantial but partial way (Rom 13:11-14).
On the one hand, it means that all the social and material concerns of this world still exist. But on the other hand, the gospel brings us an internal joy-peace and a hope in the future-of-God which relativizes and transforms all our earthly relationships (Rom 14:17). Therefore we must not “over-invest” ourselves and our hearts in anything besides the kingdom. The future of God means radical freedom! We are neither too elated by success nor too cast down by disappointment–because our true success is in God (Col 3:1-4). Though we have possessions we should live as if they weren’t really ours–for our real wealth is in God (Luke 16:1ff.) We should ‘sit loose’ to everything. There is nothing now that we have to have. Finally, Paul applies this principle to marriage and singleness. We are neither over-elated by getting married nor over-disappointed by not being so–because Christ is the only spouse that can truly fulfill us and God’s family the only family that will truly embrace and satisfy us (Eph.5:21ff.).
The Goodness and Necessity of Singleness in the Christian Community
Christianity was the very first religion or world-view that held up single adulthood as a viable way of life. Jesus himself and St. Paul were single. “One clear difference between Christianity and Judaism [and all other traditional religions] is the former’s entertainment of the idea of singleness as the paradigm way of life for its followers.” (Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character p.174) Nearly all religions and cultures made an absolute value of the family and of the bearing of children. There was no honor without family honor, and there was no real lasting significance or ‘legacy’ without leaving heirs. By contrast, the early church not only did not pressure people to marry (as we see in Paul’s letter) but it institutionally supported poor widows so they did not have to remarry. Continue reading →
“Either Scripture will be the lens through which you view the world or the world (science, politics, worldview, etc) will be the lens through which you view Scripture. Ultimately one or the other will be your authority.” – Rachel Miller
“If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself.” – Tim Keller
“Salvation comes from the Trinity, happens through the Trinity, and brings us home to the Trinity.” – Fred Sanders
“The world has ever opposed the church and always will. The struggle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is not only perennial but perpetual… It is more than time that the church be reminded that militancy is of its essence. When a church ceases to be militant it also ceases to be a church of Jesus Christ. The church on earth is glorious, not in spite of its militancy, but precisely because of it.” – R. B. Kuiper, The Glorious Body of Christ, 14, 33.
Note: The author is using a historical theological term known as the distinction between the “church militant” and “church triumphant” and as such is not advocating violence.
The militancy of the church spoken of here is not talking about violence, as Dustin comments in his post. “By the ‘Militant Church’ or fighting church, we mean all the faithful who are still upon the earth struggling for their salvation by warring against their spiritual enemies.”CUF
“The violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12—The “violent” are men of eager, impetuous zeal, who grasp the kingdom of heaven—i.e., its peace, and pardon, and blessedness—with as much eagerness as men would snatch and carry off as their own the spoil of a conquered city. Their new life is, in the prophet’s language, “given them as a prey” (Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 45:5). There is no thought of hostile purpose in the words. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
“Believer, when you are on your knees, remember you are going to a King. Let your petitions be large.” – C. H. Spurgeon
“The only reason I can give under heaven why I’m a Christian is because I’m a gift of the Father to the Son, not because of anything I’ve ever done or could do.” – R.C. Sproul
“When you pray for unconverted people, you do so on the assumption that it is in God’s power to bring them to faith.” – J. I. Packer
“No man shall be in heaven but he that sees himself fully qualified for hell.” – Robert Traill
“I would never have been saved if I could have helped it.” – C. H. Spurgeon
“Our salvation depends on God’s covenant, rooted in eternity, foreshadowed in the Mosaic liturgy, fulfilled in Christ, enduring forever. No wonder Hebrews calls it ‘so great a salvation’ (Heb. 2:3).” – Sinclair Ferguson
“A congregation who prays for their pastors will be a better-fed congregation than those who do not.” – Alistair Begg
“Since Jesus is God, then He’s got to be great enough to have some reasons to let you go through things you can’t understand.” – Unknown Continue reading →
1. Understanding the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3) John MacArthur
For some Christians, Sunday is the new Sabbath…which means no work, travel, or exercise. For others, Sunday is just another day of the week. What do you need to know about the Sabbath and Sunday worship?
For a fuller and richer treatment of this issue, the following series by Pastor Dan Caffese is highly recommended at this link.
Are the Sabbath laws binding on Christians today?
We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are ceremonial, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have passed away along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses’ law that prefigured Christ. Here are the reasons we hold this view.
1. In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to the Sabbath as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come. It is quite clear in those verses that the weekly Sabbath is in view. The phrase “a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” refers to the annual, monthly, and weekly holy days of the Jewish calendar (cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11). If Paul were referring to special ceremonial dates of rest in that passage, why would he have used the word “Sabbath?” He had already mentioned the ceremonial dates when he spoke of festivals and new moons.
2. The Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:16-17; Ezekiel 20:12; Nehemiah 9:14). Since we are now under the New Covenant (Hebrews 8), we are no longer required to observe the sign of the Mosaic Covenant.
3. The New Testament never commands Christians to observe the Sabbath.
4. In our only glimpse of an early church worship service in the New Testament, the church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
5. Nowhere in the Old Testament are the Gentile nations commanded to observe the Sabbath or condemned for failing to do so. That is certainly strange if Sabbath observance were meant to be an eternal moral principle.
6. There is no evidence in the Bible of anyone keeping the Sabbath before the time of Moses, nor are there any commands in the Bible to keep the Sabbath before the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai.
7. When the Apostles met at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), they did not impose Sabbath keeping on the Gentile believers.
8. The apostle Paul warned the Gentiles about many different sins in his epistles, but breaking the Sabbath was never one of them.
9. In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul rebukes the Galatians for thinking God expected them to observe special days (including the Sabbath).
10. In Romans 14:5, Paul forbids those who observe the Sabbath (these were no doubt Jewish believers) to condemn those who do not (Gentile believers).
11. The early church fathers, from Ignatius to Augustine, taught that the Old Testament Sabbath had been abolished and that the first day of the week (Sunday) was the day when Christians should meet for worship (contrary to the claim of many seventh-day sabbatarians who claim that Sunday worship was not instituted until the fourth century).
12. Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Rather the Lord’s Day is a time when believers gather to commemorate His resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week. Every day to the believer is one of Sabbath rest, since we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are resting in the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).
So while we still follow the pattern of designating one day of the week a day for the Lord’s people to gather in worship, we do not refer to this as “the Sabbath.”
John Calvin took a similar position. He wrote,
There were three reasons for giving this [fourth] commandment: First, with the seventh day of rest the Lord wished to give to the people of Israel an image of spiritual rest, whereby believers must cease from their own works in order to let the Lord work in them. Secondly, he wished that there be an established day in which believers might assemble in order to hear his Law and worship him. Thirdly, he willed that one day of rest be granted to servants and to those who live under the power of others so that they might have a relaxation from their labor. The latter, however, is rather an inferred than a principal reason.
As to the first reason, there is no doubt that it ceased in Christ; because he is the truth by the presence of which all images vanish. He is the reality at whose advent all shadows are abandoned. Hence St. Paul (Col. 2:17) that the sabbath has been a shadow of a reality yet to be. And he declares elsewhere its truth when in the letter to the Romans, ch. 6:8, he teaches us that we are buried with Christ in order that by his death we may die to the corruption of our flesh. And this is not done in one day, but during all the course of our life, until altogether dead in our own selves, we may be filled with the life of God. Hence, superstitious observance of days must remain far from Christians.
The two last reasons, however, must not be numbered among the shadows of old. Rather, they are equally valid for all ages. Hence, though the sabbath is abrogated, it so happens among us that we still convene on certain days in order to hear the word of God, to break the [mystic] bread of the Supper, and to offer public prayers; and, moreover, in order that some relaxation from their toil be given to servants and workingmen. As our human weakness does not allow such assemblies to meet every day, the day observed by the Jews has been taken away (as a good device for eliminating superstition) and another day has been destined to this use. This was necessary for securing and maintaining order and peace in the Church.
As the truth therefore was given to the Jews under a figure, so to us on the contrary truth is shown without shadows in order, first of all, that we meditate all our life on a perpetual sabbath from our works so that the Lord may operate in us by his spirit; secondly, in order that we observe the legitimate order of the Church for listening to the word of God, for admin-istering the sacraments, and for public prayers; thirdly, in order that we do not oppress inhumanly with work those who are subject to us. [From Instruction in Faith, Calvin’s own 1537 digest of the Institutes, sec. 8, “The Law of the Lord”].
For further study, see D. A. Carson, ed., From Sabbath to Lord’s Day (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982).