Good for Nothing

•November 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

1 Kings 9:10-14

Solomon racked up debt because of the palace. This can only be inferred from the story – but the “however” in 7:1 screams injustice. Like his father, David, he spent lavishly on himself. I suppose it’s a king’s right – maybe duty – to have the best. However, in the sin of building cedar palaces for themselves, God displayed his glory. That’s his right as King of the universe. God’s glory is shown superlative by Solomon’s selfishness.

I couldn’t help but notice how Hiram devalues these 20 towns. No doubt they were worthless. Despite the majesty of Solomon’s reign, Israel was, essentially, trash. Only in the hand of God did they have worth. In the service of pagan kings and gods, we are kindling. In God’s hands we are gold.

We shouldn’t, therefore, throw our pearls to pigs, or they’ll trample them under their feet. But don’t look too long at Hiram. It begins with Solomon devaluing the cities of Israel – are God’s people things to be bartered? Has God given me his Word, time, life, money and health to be wisely governed only to have me value and trade them as currency?

How often do I read the word of God, then close the book and sell an hour or four of my life to idleness and idolatry? Am I not a burning stick snatched from fire? Lord, teach me to number my days that I might gain a heart of wisdom.

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A quick word on baptism.

•October 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Baptism has no more value than that wedding vow which ends in divorce. Every single baptized follower of Christ during his three year ministry divorced him. Were it not for Christ’s forgiveness of Peter, Peter would have been the one ashamed of Christ at his coming. I don’t think he was baptized with water again – he had the Holy Spirit. To go under the water again would be making the Gentiles get circumcised.

We are saved, and are being saved, by the will of the Father, through the work of the Holy Spirit in preparing our hearts, to believe in Jesus now and at his coming. Water baptism imparts no grace, nor does the act hold any spiritual value whatsoever, but it is simply a testament to the presence and work of the triune God of the Bible in the life of a believer.

In relation to circumcision – baptize babies as you want, but understand that a baptized baby is no more saved than a circumcised baby. Judas was circumcised. It’s a meaningless ritual. Be deathly wary of extraneous ritual in your worship (Isaiah 1-2). Cut off your hand and save your soul. I’m watching great theologians like Doug Wilson slip into heresy because they love their pet doctrines  more than the Bible. Don’t melt down verses to make an idol. Spend your life loving what the Bible loves: the holiness, sovereignty, faithfulness, love and justice of God.

My main offense to paedobaptism is the devaluation of the believer’s baptism – that adult who consciously makes a decision to identify with Christ in his suffering and death. The last question believers in the underground Chinese church are asked before immersion is whether they will die for Christ. That should be a standard question church-wide, but it would be devalued by countless denials.

Let baptism be a promise between you and your Lord, and may a few witnesses worship him all the more because they saw you finish the race that began when you came out of the water.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6

Who Does What?

•October 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Studying the Trinity is like trying to map the surface of the Earth on a 2D surface. Flattening equals distortion. The neurons of my brain understand “on” and “off” – they can’t process “on and off.”

So when Jesus says that the Son chooses whom to reveal the Father to in Matthew 11:27, and that the Father has given those who were his to Jesus in John 17:6, I’m naturally confused. What is this entity?

And yet, the simple words of Jesus tell the whole story: “All mine are yours, and yours are mine.” We were always in the mind of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All three persons of the Trinity had complete foreknowledge, complete sovereignty in election.

A thought on Christian freedom.

•October 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

I feel like a baby in Christ. A baby can’t feed itself – it lacks the mental and physical capacity. But it knows when it’s hungry, and so it cries, non-stop, until it is finally fed. When it is fed, it’s only milk – the basic nutrition. (Hebrews 5:11-6:3) An adult in Christ can eat meat – bones, fat, protein, minerals (whatever the animal has eaten) and digest it. This is turning into a gory analogy. But a spiritual carnivore can tear off huge chunks of knowledge, filter the good from the bad and produce energy. And the writer of Hebrews isn’t talking primarily about Scripture, because constant use has “trained [them] to distinguish good from bad.”

I think he’s getting at our freedom in Christ, addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 8. When we are mature in our faith, we have the freedom, like Daniel, to educate ourselves in all the “wisdom” of the world and then filter it through the lens of the Bible.

1 Corinthians 7:22 – “For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave.”

I think he means, Christ frees the slave to sin to be a freedman, and then enslaves that freedman to righteousness.

Verse 18 puts it another way – if you’re circumcised and called, don’t undo it. You’re not free to do whatever you want. You’re enslaved to righteousness now. If you’re not circumcised and called, don’t do it. You’re not free to do whatever you want. You’re enslaved to righteousness now.

Circumcision has no value. Neither does “freedom.” It’s a meaningless term. We have freedom in Christ – within his borders. Anything else is the cow in the green pasture sticking its head through the fence to eat the scrub along the road.

You’re either a slave to righteousness or a slave to sin.

How this relates to maturity is this: maturity in Christ never accompanies extracurriculars. Through the love of the Holy Spirit, we are always on task, eating only what gives us the most energy to finish the Great Commission. There is never feasting for feasting’s sake. Our “food” is a means to an end, which is the worship of God.

And yet I feel like I can’t digest anything but Scripture. Maybe it’s because I’m a baby. Or maybe the world is becoming less and less digestible….

Prayer vs. Preaching

•October 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

“I’d rather pray than be the greatest preacher in the world. Preachers stand before men on behalf of God. Prayers stand before God on behalf of men. Which is greater?” Leonard Ravenhill

Joel

•September 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today I found out one of my best friends, Joel Taylor, went home to Jesus. His body was killed in a car accident in South Africa, but his spirit is with God in heaven now. One day Christ will come back and Joel will be with him, and he’ll get a new body. Then we’ll hang out.

I loved him very much. Pray for Michelle and his two daughters, Charlize and Kimberly.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

Joel liked the NIV.

Daniel 9

•September 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Daniel 9 is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. A few observations:

1. Daniel sits down and studies prophecy – devotionally. Not to be bookish or combative. It edifies his soul and it keeps God in the realm of the real.

2. Studying prophecy leads to intercessory prayer. It convicts him of sin and it motivates him to action.

3. The instant Daniel begins to pray, God dispatches Gabriel to go to Daniel. Daniel is greatly loved. And God knows his prayers even before he prays them (Matthew 6:8).

4. This vision of Messiah is the first not to make him afraid or sick.

5. God is going to end sin, and when he does, prophecy will be done (1 Corinthians 13). Prophecy convicts of sin.

6. The Most Holy will be anointed king only when his kingdom is holy.