Jesus’ Obedience of the Law – For Us

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. In an article entitled ” to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. Luke 2:39-40 (ESV)

Lord Jesus, though you began your life in our world totally on your parent’s care, Mary and Joseph didn’t realize how even more dependent they were on you. As obedient Jewish parents, they performed “everything according to the Law of the Lord” on your behalf. But for the next thirty-three years of your life, you perfectly fulfilled everything required in the Law for Mary and Joseph, and for us. Hallelujah, many times over!

You didn’t come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill for us. What we could never do, you’ve accomplished for us, once and for all. What we could never be, you became for us. You are our Substitute to trust, before you are our example to follow.

We praise, worship, and adore you, for so great a salvation, so firm a standing in grace, and so deep a rooting in the love of God. God’s favor, in which you’ve always lived, now rests fully and freely on us. Praise be to God!

Your last words from the cross, “It is finished!” have become our first and perpetual words of freedom. It’s not our obedience, but yours, in which we trust, boast, and hope. It’s not our righteousness, but yours, which has forever reconciled us to God. Now we obey you out of love and gratitude, not because of fear and pride.

By the same grace you’ve saved us, you’re now changing us. As you have fulfilled the Law for us, you are now fulfilling it in us. One Day we will see you as you are and we’ll be made like you. O the joy and wonder of such a gospel. Until that Day, keep us groaning and growing in grace, and free us to love others as you love us. So very Amen we pray, in your mighty and merciful name.

Quotes on Scripture

preaching-e1464051966448“Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture.” – Martin Luther

“If private revelations agree with Scripture, and if they disagree they are false.” – John Owen

“The Bible is the sceptre by which the heavenly King rules his church.” – John Calvin

“It has always been the great minds exercising their powers apart from the Word of God who have produced the great heresies. Some think they can discover God by listening to a so-called ‘inner voice.’ But the voice is often nothing more than an expression of their own inner desires. Quite a few think that spiritual truths can be verified by supernatural events or miracles. But the Bible everywhere teaches that even miracles will not lead men and women to understand and receive God’s truth unless they themselves are illuminated by the Bible (see Luke 16:31).” – James Montgomery Boice

“God speaks through the Scriptures. He speaks with the Word, through the Word, and never against the Word.” – R. C. Sproul

“All Scripture must be received as if God, appearing in person, visibly and full of majesty, were himself speaking.” – John Calvin

“In too many churches, Bible exposition has been replaced with entertainment, theology with theatrics, and the drama of redemption with just drama.” – Steve Lawson

Death: The Last Enemy, and Our Deliverer

dead-bodyExcerpted from Randy Alcorn’s book In Light of Eternity.

Peter uses the word exodus in reference to his own approaching death (2 Peter1:15). Death for the Christian is God’s deliverance from a place of bondage and suffering to a place of freedom and relief.

In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, Paul refers to his death with the Greek word analousis, meaning “to loosen.” Consider some of its common usages in that culture:

an ox being loosed from its yoke when it was finished pulling a cart.
pulling up tent stakes, in preparation for a journey.
untying a ship from dock, to let it sail away.
unchaining a prisoner, freeing him from confinement and suffering.
problem solving—when a difficult matter was finally resolved, it was said to have been “loosened.”
Each of these is a graphic picture of death for the Christian.

On the one hand, the Bible calls death “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26). On the other hand, for the person whose faith and actions have prepared him for it, death is a deliverer, casting off the burdens of a hostile world and ushering him into the world for which he was made.

No matter what difficulty surrounds it, God is intimately involved and interested in the Christian’s departure from this world: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).

What we call “death” is a transition from a dying body in a dying world to a world of light and life. No wonder Paul says, “To die is gain” and to go to be with Christ is “better by far” (Philippians 1:21-23).

There’s evidence that at death the believer will be ushered into Heaven by angels (Luke 16:22). Different angels are assigned to different people (Matthew 18:10), so perhaps our escorts into Heaven will be angels who have served us while we were on earth (Hebrews 1:14).

I’ve always appreciated this depiction of death:

I’m standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She’s an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come down to mingle with each other. And then I hear someone at my side saying, “There, she’s gone.”

Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There, she is gone” there are other eyes watching her coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!” And that, for the Christian, is dying.

What will happen as we set foot on Heaven’s shores, greeted by our loved ones? I envision it as C. S. Lewis did in the Last Battle: “The further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.” [1]

The moment we die the meager flame of this life will appear, to those we leave behind, to be snuffed out. But at that same moment on the other side it will rage to sudden and eternal intensity—an intensity that will never dim, only grow.

On his deathbed D.L. Moody said, “Soon you will read in the newspaper that I am dead. Don’t believe it for a moment. I will be more alive than ever before.”

[1] C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (New York: Macmillan, 1956), 180.

R.I.P.

Grave stone on the ground

Grave stone on the ground

When I say “Good Morning” I’m not stating that the person to which I am speaking has had thus far, or will have following, a good morning. In fact, maybe they’ve had – or will have – a terrible morning. But it’s certainly my wish for them.

“Rest in peace” (Latin: Requiescat in pace) is a short epitaph or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has died.

And lest anyone want to nit-pick that God has already decided where they’re headed and so I might be wishing against God’s will, just chill. I pray and wish for healing he doesn’t always give to folks, and pray and wish some living folks will get saved when technically one can argue God already knows and/or predestined them, so the difference is negligible. If my wish doesn’t correspond with God’s will, so be it. Happens all the time.

Conclusion? I can say “Rest in Peace” with a clear conscience. I’m stating my implicit wish for their destination and usually have no idea what their final days or relationship was with God. My desire is that they ultimately bent their knee to God before their final breath and are present in His rest.

Now if I’m preaching a funeral and am asked to speak to the person’s destination with any kind of certainty, that’s a whole other conversation.

To be even more clear, there ARE some phrases I would avoid: I wouldn’t say of someone (particularly a celebrity and thus, honestly, a stranger) “they are now resting in peace”. That would be a declarative statement and not a wish or desire. So watching my words IS important, but the above seems fine to me.

– James Harleman

Pluralism: A Culture Without Truth

Vince Vitale

We live in a post-truth society – that’s what The Economist claimed a few months ago. Truth has so often been abused that society is fleeing from truth and adopting a pluralism that assures us “All truths are equally valid.” Does that include the claim that all truths are not equally valid? That’s how quickly pluralism runs into incoherence. So, why does it persist; why is it growing? Vince talks more about this in his new book, “Jesus Among Secular Gods,” co-written with Ravi Zacharias.

One Who Is Son

Dr. Liam Goligher is Senior Minister of Tenth Church, Philadelphia, PA.

From the Church website:
In the 1970s and 1980, a major battle was underway, often referred to as the Inerrancy of Scripture. Dr. Boice was on the front lines of that battle. Before that, Dr. Barnhouse chose to stay within the Northern Presbyterian Church, as it was called informally. He battled valiantly for the Virgin Birth of Christ, the possibility of miracles, including the resurrection of Christ, and many other core Christian beliefs under attack by the Modernists or Liberals of his day.

Tenth has a long tradition of engaging in such battles and being at the forefront of many of them. It has been a clarion voice in defense of orthodox Christian beliefs as they emerged from the Reformation 500 years ago next year. Documents were drawn up, still cherished today, which define the great truths of the Bible in the terminology of the era in which they were written. So we have the Westminster Confession of Faith and our great catechisms. People died for the truths recorded in them.

Few of us today could explain how Dr. Boice and others drew the battle lines against ‘neo-orthodoxy’ and its watered down view of Scripture in the 1970s. We acknowledge that it was important, but if called upon today to refight that battle, we would have much brushing up to do. That was less than 50 years ago. The battle with the liberals was less than 100 years ago. Few indeed, outside the seminary, would remember the shape of that debate. However, the faith of millions rode on those two battles. And Tenth’s congregation supported their ministers through those fights.

Today, Tenth has again been called to take on a serious challenge to the faith we hold dear. It is our privilege to take up ‘arms’ for our King in a battle far more foundational than those two huge debates of the 20th Century – the Doctrine of God and the full deity of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, false teaching has already crept, almost silently, deep inside the very walls of evangelicalism. It was Dr. Goligher who, last June, flipped the switch of the floodlights, revealing these teachings for what they are. Today we would say it went viral.

Also unfortunately, we are being called to pick up a debate that has lain dormant, not for a mere 100 years, but for 1600 years. Obviously, no one at Tenth remembers those battles and the great issues involved. Even the names of those who fought, and sometimes died, for the truth have an unfamiliar ring. That debate seems shrouded in the mists of history. It seems couched in Trinitarian language too abstract for us to comprehend. It seems as if we could never get our heads around such complexity.

We should thank God from our deepest heart that the men who fought the battle in AD 200-400 were men schooled in a world where philosophy – which at that time still included theology – was deemed the supreme field of knowledge. They were up to the task. Today, theology takes a back seat to medicine, all the sciences, history, languages, the arts and even philosophy. But those men defined the debate. We only need to relearn its terms.

Beginning October 9, when starting a series on Hebrews, Dr. Goligher began training us for the battle, which is already raging nationwide. Those have been tough sermons to follow. On the subject of the Trinity, it might be difficult to see the relevance to our daily lives.

Few people would grasp half of what they need to know on the first pass. Listening to them several times, one still finds new angles, new insights into the shape of this debate, new implications for every aspect of our faith.

The trumpet call has sounded. In accordance with Ephesians 6:13-18, let’s polish our spiritual armor. In particular, we need the sword of the Holy Spirit, the word of God as ‘unpacked’ in these sermons. There will be tough times ahead for Bible-proclaiming churches across our country. As so often in the past, many will look to Tenth to lead the charge.

Those who care deeply for the gospel faith, for our Father God, and for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will spend time mulling over those sermons on the Trinity. As Dr. Goligher says in one of them:

“Everything is at stake! Everything is at stake!”

11/06/16 11AM Sermon “One Who Is Son” Tenth Presbyterian Church from Tenth Presbyterian Church on Vimeo.

EXTRACT: This word [Son] denotes having the very nature of God and the people of his own day, the Jews of his own day, understood this very clearly. In John 5:18, they complained, you see, “He was calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God.” They understood what was going on. And listen to Jesus’ reply. He doesn’t dissuade them. He doesn’t deny it; he doesn’t avoid the subject. In fact, he pursues the subject. He essentially says to them, “That is exactly… You are exactly right. ‘Son of God’ means God.”

VERSES: John 5:26, Psalm 2:7, Colossians 1:15-20, John 1:3, Mark 2:5-10, Luke 7:47-49, John 10:28, John 17:2, Philippians 3:3, Revelation 5:12-13, Matthew 2:2, John 20:28, John 9:38, Matthew 28:8, Hebrews 7:26, Isaiah 52:13, Isaiah 6:1, Philippians 2:9-10, Genesis 1, 1 Timothy 6:16, John 1:9, John 1:18, John 3:31-34, Isaiah 11:2, Colossians 2:2-3, Colossians 1:19, Luke 2:40, Luke 2:42-52, John 16:12-15, John 8:35-36, Hebrews 3:6, Proverbs 3:19, Proverbs 8:22-31, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Ephesians 1:17, John 5:18-26, John 6:46, John 8:38, John 14:7-11, John 4:24, Matthew 28:18, John 17:2, 1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16, Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:19, John 17:3,

Series: http://www.tenth.org/resource-library/series-index/hebrews

The Formation of the Bible

bibleHere’s a short article by Timothy W. Massaro entitled “6 Things We Need to Know about the Formation of the Bible” – original source these councils affirmed the books they believed had functioned as foundational documents for the Christian faith. The councils merely declared the way things had been since the time of the apostles. Thus, these councils did not create, authorize, or determine the canon. They simply were part of the process of recognizing a canon that already existed.

2. Early Christians believed that canonical books were self-authenticating.
Another authenticating factor was the internal qualities of each book. These books established themselves within the church through their internal qualities and uniqueness as depicting Christ and his saving work. The New Testament canon we possess is not due to the collusions of church leaders or the political authority of Constantine, but to the unique voice and tone possessed by these writings.

3. The New Testament books are the principle Christian writings we have.
The New Testament books are the earliest writings we possess regarding Jesus. The New Testament was completed in the first century. This means the writings include testimonies from eyewitnesses and were written within fifty years of the events, which cannot be said of any of the apocryphal literature often discussed in the news. This is particularly evident when it comes to the four gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the only gospel accounts that originate in the first century.

4. The New Testament books directly relate to the apostolic testimony.
Unlike any book from that period or the following century, the New Testament books were directly connected to the apostles and their testimony of the resurrected Christ. The canon is intimately connected to their activities and influence. The apostles had the very authority of Christ himself (Matt. 28:18–20). Along with the Old Testament, their teachings were the very foundation of the church. The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets” (Eph. 2:20).

5. Some New Testament writers quote other New Testament writers as Scripture.
The belief in new revelation or a testament of books was not a late development. From the days of the apostles themselves, these writings were seen as unique in their authority and witness. This belief seems to be present in the earliest stages of Christianity. In 2 Peter 3:15–16, Peter refers to Paul’s letters as “Scripture,” which would have put them on a par with the books of the Old Testament. This is a significant fact that is often overlooked.

6. Early Christians used non-canonical writings without analogous authority.
Christians often cited non-canonical literature with positive affirmation for edification. Yet, Christians were simply using these books as helpful, illuminating, or edifying texts. Rarely was there confusion as to whether they were on a par with Scripture. These books were eventually disregarded according to the criteria of whether they had general acceptance, apostolicity, and self-authentication.

The Trinity and the Reformation

The Significance of the Trinity Underpinning the Great Doctrines of the Reformation – Michael Reeves

Can we ever afford to be vague about the nature and identity of our God? Reformational thought is often portrayed as having little concern for the doctrine of God and for trinitarian theology. By looking at the challenges that the trinitarianism of the early Reformers presented to the Roman Catholic theology of their day, in the theology of Calvin and the Reformed tradition, the triune being of God came to constitute the shape of all Christian belief, this session will argue that the theology of the mainstream Reformers drew from – and could only have grown in – explicitly trinitarian soil.