Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Michael Bloomberg & Heaven

First, let me say this post is not about politics.

This brief post is about arrogance. It is about theology.

The Blaze is reporting that Michael Bloomberg believes he is going to go to heaven because of his good works. This view has always been a rather common one because it is the natural tendency of the human heart to think we are good enough before God therefore he will reward us.

What is rather rare is the brazenness of Michael Bloomberg's articulation. But really it points to the brazenness and arrogance of anyone who thinks they can secure themselves and their position before God.

Michael Bloomberg is quoted as saying:

"I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close."

I'm sorry, Mr. Bloomberg but as humanitarian as your efforts on gun control, smoking, and obesity may (or may not) be, these will count as nothing before a righteous and holy God.

Repent and trust Christ.

Even more your attitude should remind us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Compromising by "Not Compromising"

World Vision is announcing a change in it's policy regarding hiring employs united in same-sex "marriages. In defensive of their change Richard Sterns argues that they are not compromising but allowing churches to rule on the theological issue.

But the logic of justification here is twisted and convoluted. I agree that para-church organizations are not churches and do not have the authority that churches have, but the minute you consider yourself a religious para-church organization, you have to take some theological stances (even if you don't get as narrow as some particular churches might on issues of say baptism, eschatology or Calvinism vs. Arminianism). You still are going to have some notion of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and say the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds--otherwise you are not Christian. These commitments are going to have ethical implications. I mean I'm sure World Vision implicitly has some belief on the fruits of the Spirit. Even more some "churches" reject aiding the poor, so that's a divisive issue in theory right?

Here is the justification:
"It's easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there," he said. "This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support."

"We're not caving to some kind of pressure. We're not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us," said Stearns. "This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We're an operational arm of the global church, we're not a theological arm of the church."
The problem is that your non-endorsement is an endorsement. You can claim your are not 'rejecting traditional marriage' but the whole concept of traditional marriage is that marriage is defined by the union of a man and women. So if you allow other definitions you are definition not affirming traditional marriage.

You didn't defer authority, you made a pretty clear statement.

If you hired someone because they wanted a job but then they said "Look the church really shouldn't be so concerned with the poor--even if we are doing a good thing, it's not necessary" you'd jump all over that with theological arguments.

Your "not weighing in" actually weighs in.

Someone should point out that some of the liberal mainline denominations out there also cast aspersion on the Apostle's Creed and Nicene Creed. Why be so divisive over these issues too? Because you value them as important and defining to the Christian faith. Has any branch of major Christianity prior to the 20th century really been unclear on the Christian position on human sexuality & homosexuality?

The unity that World Vision wants to unite around is really a sham. It amounts to saying we'll make theological commitments when it suits us and ignore them when it doesn't suit us.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Trueman on New Calvinism and Driscoll

Carl Trueman writes,
And then, finally, there is the silence. The one thing that might have kept the movement together would have been strong, transparent public leadership that openly policed itself and thus advertised its integrity for all to see. Yet the most remarkable thing about the whole sorry saga, from the Jakes business until now, has been the silence of many of the men who present themselves as the leaders of the movement and who were happy at one time to benefit from Mark Driscoll’s reputation and influence. One might interpret this silence as an appropriate refusal to comment directly on the ministry of men who no longer have any formal connection with their own organizations.

Yet the leaders of the “young, restless, and reformed” have not typically allowed that concern to curtail their comments in the past. Many of them have been outspoken about the teaching of Joel Osteen, for example. In their early days, when the Emergent Church was vying with the new Calvinism for pole position in the American evangelical world, they launched regular, and often very thorough, critiques of the Emergent leaders. In retrospect, however, it is clear that these were soft targets. Their very distance made them safe. Problems closer to home are always much harder to speak to, much more likely to earn opprobrium from one’s friends, and thus much more likely to be ignored. The result, however, is that some leaders become very accustomed to always doing things their way. All of us who are thought of as Evangelical or Reformed now live with the bitter fruit of that failure of leadership.

Trueman is right. The new calvinism picks "soft targets" when it critiques Joel Olsteen & the emerging church, if it cannot policy it's own then it shows itself. In some circles it was just a "good ole boys club", with an "I know nothing attitude" when its insiders head down the wrong path and do stupid things.

I'm a pastor in a small church connected to a small denomination. If I behaved half like what we see in some of these public pastors, I'd have local elders calling for my resignation and a denominational board investigating my credentials to be a minister of the gospel--but then that's what it means to be part of the body of Christ. As pastors we are not only leaders in the church but under authorities of both men and God. That is the way it should be.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dance Girls vs. Dad: A Photo Essay

My daughter's are in dance. That means they are extremely flexible. I, on the other hand, am not.

I can't even get close

No splits for me

Seriously, my leg doesn't go any higher

Not even gonna try.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jesus' Ongoing Ministry

One of the greatest things about the ministry of Christ that he continues to minister to us in heaven before the throne of God. In fact, because of His presence in heaven, the throne of God is a throne of grace for the believer in Jesus Christ.

In heaven, Christ is a glorified and resurrection body which has conquered and triumphed over sin and death. His body is one of indestructible life, that of the resurrection, that of the age to come, the new creation.

Yet, when we cry out to him, we have one who is able to sympathize with us. While Jesus Christ himself never sinned--in his earthly humanity, he was like us in all things. He had a body that was beholden to weakness and suffering. He knows what it is like to cry out to God the Father in great need.

This makes Christ, all the more, a fitting minister on our behalf. He has "been there" as it were. He has seen the struggle and walked it. He alone was heard because of his godliness in his cry to God but because of this he can identify and be a mediator for us both as the godliness that we need but also as the perfected one before the throne on our behalf. And yet because he was like us in all things, he can continue to minister as he does as the representative human.

Hebrews 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Trinity and God's Love

John Owen's Communion with God is a classic text. It reminds us of the love we have from God and our communion with Him is from/with each of the three persons of the Godhead.

This is amazingly true and can be illustrated from many texts, one of which is Galatians 4:4-7.

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

First, we should note that while love is not specifically mentioned in this text, we cannot conceive these actions apart from the love of God. So while love is not mentioned by name here, plenty of other verses in Scripture describe the same content here in connection with the love of God.

Second, this passage does not “work” unless God is a Trinity. A basic definition of the Trinity is that God is one God (not three Gods) consisting of three eternal persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). God is one being and three persons.

Each person has all the divine attributes completely. So that the Father is eternal and glorious, the Son is eternal and glorious and the Holy Spirit is eternal and glorious. But they are not three eternal beings or three glories.

This is a vital doctrine for a number of reasons:
(1) Because this is who God is. --If you love your spouse, you have to love them for who they are.

(2) Because God would not be love if he were not also three persons. C.S. Lewis says that when most people say “God is love” what they really mean is “love is God”. But for their to be an eternal love of God, there needs to be three eternal persons.

So some basic point:
1. The love of God is accomplished by the sending of the Son.
  • The love of God is an active love.
  • God the Father accomplishes His Love in the sending of His Son.
  • Jesus Christ is our redemption.
  • So that there is no conflict between the Father and Son in this plan. Jesus didn’t say “do I have to do this?” 
  • There is also love that comes from the Father and from the Son.

2. The love of God is applied by the sending of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is pouring God’s love into our hearts by virtue of His presence in us. (Romans 5:5)
  • God’s love came into the world when God sent Christ, but God’s love came into our hearts when the Holy Spirit regenerated us with new life.
  • So God the Father sends the Spirit. But it is the Holy Spirit of the Son.
    (1) Because Jesus had a perfect spiritual experience with the Holy Spirit in His earthly life.
    (2) Jesus Christ is the one who went back to heaven so that the Holy Spirit could be sent. He too is involved in the sending.
How does the Holy Spirit help you grasp the love of God?
  1. You would not believe or grasp the gospel if it were not for the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit. You need regeneration. You need to be made alive, to be made to see.
  2. You will not love God unless God first puts His love in your heart. This is the Holy Spirit’s job.
  3. The Holy Spirit seals you. You cannot be cut of from Christ because the Holy Spirit resides in you.
  4. The Holy Spirit causes you to cry out to God as your Father.
3. The love of God is experienced by you in your adoption.
  • (1) Adoption is not the same kind of sonship.
  • (2) God’s love in your adoption brings a status to us and an inheritance for us. So adoption does bring the same kingdom privileges that the Son has won and acquired.
  • (3) God’s love in my adoption brings intimacy with God to me.

My thoughts today, stem from this sermon on the Trinity and the Triune Love of God. You can listen in the player below:

Monday, February 24, 2014

On the Holy Spirit

Last month I preached to sermons on the Holy Spirit from John 14 and 16.

A couple things I noticed in the passage:
(1) The importance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus doesn't give us "second bests" once he goes away. It is actually good that he goes away.
(2) The coming of the Holy Spirit is of major importance for the climax of redemptive history.
(3) The role of the Spirit is vital for the application of redemption in the Christian life. 
The more I study Scripture, the more I am convinced of the wisdom of older Reformed theologians. For example, they did not back off and minimize the Holy Spirit. 

One all too common critique out there is that if you are cessationist you have little or no value for the role of the Holy Spirit. I defy anyone to make that criticism after reading just a smidgen of Calvin or Owen, Bavinck or even Warfield (esp. on Calvin).

On the contrary I think those who emphasize the Holy Spirit by way of sensationalism minimize the role of the Holy Spirit in the application of redemption. Indeed, this is the miraculous operation of the Spirit in the life of the person.

Here are two sample sermons attempting to do justice to the text and these issues:

The Holy Spirit Given to Us:

"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...