Saturday, March 24, 2012

When Sermon Prep and YouTube Collide

Today I was browsing YouTube for a few minutes looking for an old song that I couldn’t quite call to mind (mostly because I never knew it well), and I happened upon some videos of a certain popular Christian music artist (I hate that term … but I digress) from the 80s, 90s, and today.

She was dressed modestly, sang passionately, seemed mostly devoid of the gyrations and foolishness that accompanies much of Christian music today. She was praising God with her whole heart and leading others in worship. She even prayed before she sang.

Turns out she was also hooking up with a man she wasn’t married to.

She blew up her marriage and family. Caused a lot of pain both for herself and her family.

But she looked just right. And man could she sing. And she was so passionate and devoted leading worship that way.

And people thought everything was okay.

Today I am finishing up a message for tomorrow on Galatians 2:20 about being crucified with Christ and no longer living, yet all the while continuing to live by faith in Jesus. I am thinking about the connections between Galatians 2:20, Romans 6, Colossians 3:5, and Romans 8. They are not exactly parallel, but they share a common theme: death to sin and self and life because of what you believe about Jesus.

And I reminded how easy it is to put on a good show, to look right, dress right, sing right, speak right, be passionate and energetic, and not be living the crucified life.

Brothers and sisters, to quote my good friend John Owen, Be killing sin or it will be killing you.

Jesus loved us and gave himself up for us. So believe it, and be crucified with Christ.

Then go live like you believe it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Quotable: Moo on the Indivisible Law

As has been often pointed out, the threefold distinction of moral, ceremonial, and civil law as separate categories with varying degrees of applicability is simply unknown in the Judaism of the first century, and there is little evidence that Jesus or Paul introduced such a distinction.

Douglas J. Moo, “ ‘Law,’ ‘Works of the Law,’ and Legalism in Paul,” Westminster Theological Journal Volume 45 (Spring 1983), 85.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Around the Horn

Only a triple today but here goes …

First, here’s an interesting article on mortgages, strategic defaults, and Christian responsibility. I don’t know enough about mortgages and defaults to vouch for this, but it gives a perspective that we should consider. I have had opportunity to counsel people on this issue, and it is a hard one. But we should be informed as to some of the complexities of it.

At second, here’s a good read on Evangelicals and Influence: “It’s difficult to present a compelling witness when our own practices and lifestyle are often indistinguishable from the larger culture.”

And at third, a good from from Brian Croft about measuring ministry by numbers. He quotes John Brown, a 19th century Scottish pastor.

I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough.

Now, there is no glory in being a small congregation. All things being equal, more disciples is better than fewer disciples. More people hearing the  Word is better than fewer people hearing it.

But numbers are intoxicating, easy to measure, and sometimes devoid of real meaning. R. Kent Hughes was surely right about Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome, a book well worth your time.

The truth is that that some take being small as a badge of honor for their failure to “compromise.” I fear that many of them use it as an excuse for a lack of passion to reach people. They talk about evangelism. They talk about the work of God in saving sinners. But that’s all. They are lecturers. Thinkers. Intellectuals. Not practitioners.

God may have your church small for a reason. And be content to be faithful, to preach the Word, to love people, to tell them the good news of salvation in Jesus alone.

But beware of the tendency towards satisfaction. Beware of the tendency towards being at ease in Zion. And by all means, beware of judging others are compromisers because they have reached more people than you have.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Question, Some Answers, and an Exhortation

Question: Where did God send His Word when he wanted to preserve it?

But more on that later.

First, Sam Gipp produced a video about the KJV controversy. It is, as others have said, pretty well done. It sets Gipp up as a wise and gracious teacher, taking the time to talk to a student about the Bible.

But there are some problems with it, and James White has produced some excellent responses here (which includes Gipp’s video). White systematically dismantles many of the arguments of Gipp by showing how they are simply not true for a variety of reasons. IMO, teachings such as “KJV-Onlyism” (in its various forms from Ruckman to Gipp to Cloud) thrive only in a culture where teaching the truth is undervalued. There are some legitimate differences and discussions that surround the discussion of Bible texts and translations. But none of those legitimate issues can lead to the dogmatic or certain elevation of one Greek text or one translation above all others.

I bring it up here because I think there are some well-meaning and well-intentioned people who are the victims of teaching that actually appeals to something outside of Scripture.

Here’s some evidence for that: One of the primary contentions in the KJV-Only movement is that “God only wrote one Bible” (or a close approximation).

Yet every argument that identifies that “one Bible” does not use Scripture to identify that “one Bible.”

The best attempt I ever had to root this argument in Scripture was someone who quoted Ecclesiastes 8:4 which says (KJV), “Where the word of the king is, there is power.”

The king, of course, was King James.

It was a laughable attempt to be sure. But give the guy credit for trying.

The fact is that God never identifies the KJV (or any other version) as “the only Word of God” or even “the best translation.” That always arises from outside of Scripture, and is based on the logical conclusions and the philosophies of men. It is not revealed by God. It is, by definition, a different authority.

When Sam Gipp argues that the Bible comes from Antioch, he has asserted a “final authority” that does not come from Scripture, because the Bible never identifies Antioch as the source of good copies of Scriptures, and the Bible never identifies Alexandria as the source of bad ones.

My friend, beware of these slick sounding, dogmatic arguments.

Ask for verses.

And then read them. And notice how the verses do not say what they are being accused of.

And then ask what the final authority is: The Bible? Or Sam Gipp?

Sam Gipp wants you to believe it’s the Bible. And he tries to prove it by asking you to believe him.

I think we should just believe the Bible, and judge Sam Gipp by that. And when we do, we will find that his arguments aren’t nearly as attractive as a slick video.

So where did God send His Word when he wanted to preserve it?


You can read it for yourself in Matthew 2.

Beware of people who tell you you can’t trust your Bible.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Spam Comments

FYI, I just realized that my blog had a spam filter on comments, something which I did not know.

As a result a couple of readers had made comments in the past (several months ago, in fact) that I did not know about.

My apologies. I have published them now.

I very rarely delete comments. So if you comment and it doesn’t post, there is probably a mistake somewhere.