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Preaching

The Word Became fresh…On exodus 4:24-26

Commenting on the below passage…

‘At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, ‘Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!’ So he let him alone. It was then that she said, ‘A bridegroom of blood,’ because of the circumcision.”

(Exodus 4:24–26 ESV)

…Dale Ralph Davis, in his book The Word Became Fresh, writes this:

‘We do not understand how Yahweh could be so abrupt, so lethal, with Moses. We get used to thinking that there is a dull predictability about God. Sometimes we may even begin to think that because we follow a certain system of doctrine (e.g., Reformed theology) we therefore know what God will and won’t do. And there is a danger among both believers and unbelievers of slopping into this way of thinking that so much as says, ‘God would never demand or require of us anything we believe unreasonable; God would never do anything I consider to be against good judgment. That is a recipe for an idol. The most shocking part of Exodus 4:24-26 is most useful to me. It forces me to ask if God is free to be who he is, or, do I try to make him my prisoner, subject to what I think
he should be? A Christian must keep asking himself: Am I worshiping the God of the Bible or only God as I wish to think of him?’

Dale Ralph Davis The Word Became Fresh (p.69)

I am only part way through reading this book, but it is brilliant in helping us think through preaching the OT. I heartily recommend it (not just for preachers, his commentaries are also brilliant to read through leisurely). You can never have too many books…unless you are highly allergic to them and you are required to carry an Epinephrine (adrenaline) pen around with you just in case of an emergency. In that event, don’t page a Doctor, it might make you worse.

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Uncategorized

Happy Reformation Day!!

Well the 31st of October has come around again. The day on which we celebrate Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses in Wittenberg in 1517. These theses attacked the cruel notion that we can purchase forgiveness and less time in purgatory. Luther came to understand that the gospel of God’s righteousness is good news which is a gift to us–not a threat of punishment! The just shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17), not by faith and works. Luther was really discovering the Apostle Paul for the first time and not inventing anything new…Soli Deo Gloria.

This song was written to reflect on the 5 solas of the reformation by Tim Chester and Bob Kauflin:

1. Your word alone is solid ground,
the mighty rock on which we build.
In every line the truth is found,
and every page with glory filled.

2. Through faith alone we come to you,
we have no merit we can claim,
sure that your promises are true,
we place our hope in Jesus’ name.

     Gloria, gloria, glory to God alone.
     Gloria, gloria, glory to God alone.

3. In Christ alone we’re justified,
his righteousness is all our plea.
Your law’s demands are satisfied,
his perfect work has set us free.

     Gloria, gloria, glory to God alone.
     Gloria, gloria, glory to God alone.

4. By grace alone we have been saved,
all that we are has come from you.
Hearts that were once by sin enslaved,
now by your pow’r have been made new.

     Gloria, gloria, glory to God alone.
     Gloria, gloria, glory to God alone.

Optional final verse for Reformation Sunday:
And on this Reformation day
we join with saints of old to sing;
we lift our hearts as one in praise:
Glory to Christ our gracious King.

Tim Chester and Bob Kauflin

Categories
Quote

Confessions Of A Former Charismatic | The Heidelblog

Confessions Of A Former Charismatic | The Heidelblog
— Read on heidelblog.net/2016/08/confessions-of-a-former-charismatic/

(Well worth a read, goes to the point of how protestants can inadvertently undermine the authority of Scripture by doing things they think are spiritual and biblical.)

Categories
Unity

On Christian Unity

The foundation and structure of unity. What is the basis of Christian unity? There are multiple protestant denominations that exist – even multiple types of the same denominations. There are a plethora of Christian cults constantly seeking our affirmation and their legitimacy. The Roman Catholic Church has become just another denomination rather than what the reformers understood it to be – a false church and a church of the antichrist. Thus, there remains a frightening confusion between what it means to be a true and false church, between true and false unity. Sadly, it is painfully evident that ignorance abounds as to what it means to be confessional – let alone reformed; to be Protestant – let alone evangelical. On what basis, therefore, can we even know if we have genuine unity with another professing Christian? I want to put it to you that the basis upon which we can know if we have unity with other professing Christians is based on what Paul describes as the foundation and structure of the household of God. The foundation – sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) – and the structure – solus Christus – (Christ alone) are the fundamental principles that build the true household of God. This means the foundation of the gospel community can only be built on the sole supreme authority of the Word of God – for faith and life. The structure, indeed the only structure that can stand on this foundation, is that of the true person and work of Christ – and Him alone.

It’s no wonder that Paul used this imagery in Ephesians ch. 2 where he describes that we, both Jew and Gentile, are saved by grace through faith and not by works. This redemption purchased for His people, who are saved out of two major people groups (Jews and Gentile), brings these peoples into one united household. The implications of this are: ‘So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.’ (Ephesians 2:19–22 ESV)

The foundation. How does the Paul describe the unity of his people who have been redeemed? First, as a ‘household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.’ The redeemed have unity being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, that is by believing the words of those who spoke the very Words of God – pointing us to Christ as they spoke with the authority of Christ. Thus,affirming that Scripture alone has – and is – the supreme authority – because it is the Word of God – is foundational to true Christian unity.

The structure. Secondly, the redeemed also have unity in ‘Christ Jesus…being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure…grows into a holy temple in the Lord.’ The cornerstone of the building is a crucial piece which secures and strengthens the frame or structure. It’s what all the other structural pieces are measured against and aligned with. Without this structure, the building will not stand. The gospel of the person and work of Christ – otherwise known as justification (by faith alone) is the ‘article upon which the church stands or falls’ (Luther) or the hinge upon which everything turns (Calvin). Without getting the person and work of Christ right, without getting justification right, without getting the gospel right, we have no structure, we have no true church.

Implications. If we share the same foundation and the same structure we can know that we have unity with like minded believers who believe God’s Word (the prophets and the apostles) over man’s word, and who believe the biblical gospel. If we believe God’s Word and His Gospel it doesn’t matter (for the purposes of evangelical unity) whether or not we are Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Congregational etc. because we – together – believe His Word and His Work. Interestingly, this foundation and structure are none other than the two main causes of the Protestant reformation. The initial flash point of the reformation was whether we can purchase forgiveness through any means, either money, works or attitude. That is, has Christ done everything to accomplish our salvation or not? Is Christ really the cornerstone or is He just the blue print of the building – the example? Have we really been justified by faith alone or by cooperation? How do we know this? This 16th century debate then necessarily led to expose the underlying problem of the Roman Church: that Scripture was not the sole and supreme authority. Theirs was an authority ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets‘… yes, but also on popes, councils and man made traditions. You see, if your foundation is faulty, so will your cornerstone be. If your foundation is right it is difficult to get the cornerstone wrong. Without sharing this Scripture alone foundation and this Christ alone structure we do not have any union, unity or fellowship with any believer who denies these realities even though they claim ‘Jesus’, profess to be Christian, or are even employed as a pastor. What abut the Roman Catholics? Their official doctrine opposes both the Scripture alone foundation and the Christ alone structure. They add the commandments of men to Scripture and they add works of men to Christ.

A final point. What about those who confess these things but by their life deny them? It is true that one can be orthodox in theology (at least on the surface) and profess these truths yet inwardly they disobey and deny them. These people are generally exposed when God sends them suffering and persecution. This is why many people leave the church when ‘bad’ things happen to them. But it does raise the final point. The final point is this, that we can consider these two truths, the foundation and structure, as external evidences of unity. However, the ultimate reality, that is alluded to in the passage above, gives us true unity: In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Those who have been born again, who have the Spirit of Christ, who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit have union together. This is what we could call the internal unity. What we profess to believe above is the external unity but the Spirit of Christ indwelling us and causing us to trust His Word and His Work (i.e. the gospel) is the internal evidence and means of true Christian unity. With the Spirit living inside of us, we cannot for long hold errors relating to the foundation and structure for long because the Spirit of sanctification will sanctify our hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit is also then the unifying Spirit in Christ.

A final word. I think it is also important when we talk about the authority of Scripture and the gospel of the person and work of Christ (i.e. justification by faith alone – because Christ alone has done everything for us) we must not only affirm what the proposition affirms, we must also deny what the proposition denies. For example, for one to say that they believe in justification by grace alone they must also believe that those who do not believe in the gospel will perish. There is no gospel if there is no saving from something…i.e. hell. There are plenty of Christians who talk about grace alone but in the next confused breath assert that somehow everyone will be saved. Do you see how this is an undermining of the gospel they claim to believe? Sneeky and cunning people can use our vocabulary and say they believe in the authority of Scripture meanwhile being led solely by their feelings, subjectivism or culture. In our culture today we have some people justifying abortion, homosexuality (in the church, marriage and ministry) and transgenderism by stating they are consistent with Scripture. Yet these beliefs are tantamount to calling God a liar. With such people we have no unity. They are actively denying the authority of Scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ who – if they would only listen to the gospel – would be saved if they repented and trusted in His Word and believed the Word who became flesh to die for sinners like me.

Soli Deo Gloria

Categories
Diet of Worms

Are we still standing?

Having reflected on the historical events of Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms in 1521, it’s time to reflect on what it still means. Are we still standing? At Worms Luther was asserting that no man, neither King, Emperor nor Pope, has the authority to place himself above the authority of God. The authority of God is made plain to us in and by the Word of God. If Luther was wrong about what he had written, he wanted to be shown from the Word that he was wrong. He did not appreciate being told that there would be no discussion at Worms and that he must recant and trust the interpretation of the Pope and the councils. Luther rightly recognised the Emperor, the Pope and the councils were no authority at all because they put themselves essentially above the Word. Five hundred years on, the Roman Church has not changed. Worms is still relevant. What has changed, however, is that many in the Protestant and Evangelical churches have actually succumbed to the same problem Luther was standing against at Worms.

Today many who call themselves Protestants ground their authority in subjective experience and feelings. Some Protestants, wanting to distance themselves from the classical Liberal, claim to believe God’s Word but are so unbiblically reinterpretive of Scripture that – functionally – they remain Liberals. They continue the age old question of the Serpent: ‘Has God Said?’ or more deceptively rather, ‘has God really meant…’. In this way they can keep the illusion that the Bible means something to them while denying it at the same time making it say what they want it to say.

Other Protestants often repeat the same mistakes of the Anabaptists by suggesting that all we need is the Spirit to guide. The way they do this, however, is to drive a wedge between the Spirit and Scripture that if feelings or ‘words from the Lord’ do not match Scripture their experience and feelings still trump Scripture. Or they claim God has said something that cannot be tested by Scripture, therefore they automatically claim it as confirmed because Scripture technically does not speak against it – a dangerous place to be. If it cannot be tested, it cannot be admitted with the authority of God’s Word. In many ways these Protestants are in a position far worse than Roman Catholicism which openly admits the equal authority of tradition and Scripture. These Protestants do, however, often pay lip service to Sola Scriptura but what they really mean is ‘I alone decide…’ and ‘I’ll be the judge.’ Instead of having one Pope, now we have millions.

Are we still standing? Or has culture bent our arm and forced us to succumb to its truth? Culture is the new ‘tradition’ that is seeking to impose its authority on the Protestant church. Cultural Marxism (critical theory, critical race theory etc) is making inroads almost unabated.

Culture, though feminism, says that man and woman should and can have the same roles in the church, family and society. God says man and woman are equal in worth but that they have roles which when obeyed according to Scripture, provide the greatest families, relationships and societies we can have: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ (Gal 3:28) Culture says women should preach and pastor but God says men should preach and pastor. Culture implies women should lead the family, but God says men should lead the family: ‘This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.‘ (Titus 1:5-9) ‘But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.’ (Titus 2:1-5)

Cutlure says homosexuality is good and a human right. God says homosexuality is wrong and that it is a perversion of the good relationship He designed between a man and a woman: ‘Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’ (1 Cor 6:9-11) Did you note that its not just homosexuals who are called out: the sexually immoral (i.e. any sex outside of marriage), the thieves (yes illegal tax evasion and illegal movies are stealing), the greedy (for money, promotion, unjust gain), the drunkards ( yes nightclubs and alcohol soaked parties), and the revilers and swindlers or cheats will not inherit the kingdom of God. Anyone feeling left out? I am pretty sure this list includes all of us at one time.

Culture says almost any sexual sin is permissible even premarital sex, adultery and many other heterosexual sins: ‘Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.’ (1 Cor 6:18–20) ‘Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.’ (1 Tim 1:8–11)

Culture says a man can be a woman and a girl can be a boy. God says, we are born either a male or a female: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ (Gen 1:27) ‘But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ (Mark 10:6)

Culture says that to ‘repent and believe’ in the gospel, is either unnecessary or just not true. God says repent and believe or you will perish: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’ (Mark 1:15)

Culture says all Christian sects, religions and denominations are equally right and true. God says we are justified by faith alone and if we deny this we are cut off from Christ: ‘You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.’ (Gal 5:4)

Of course there are many other things that culture is bidding us to come and lay down at the altar of Satan – after all our battle is not against flesh and blood against the devil and his cronies. Is our conscience captive to the Word of God or to the words (i.e. dribble) of man? Are we still standing, or have we bowed the knee to Baal?

Categories
Diet of Worms

A Diet of Worms… (3) 500 years ago today (18th April 1521)

At four o’ clock in the afternoon on the 18th of April Luther again presented himself before the Emperor. Although he was not given attention until six o’ clock. With the assembly seated and Martin standing in their midst, the secretary then spoke confirming that Luther agreed the books were his and they were awaiting the answer to the second question, whether he wished to withdraw anything he had written. But before Luther would respond, the secretary would take a stab at Luther by implying he should have thought about his answers for some time and that he did not have the right for a longer period of deliberation. ‘Moreover’ the secretary continued, ‘it is generally agreed that the obligation of faith is so certain for all that anybody, whenever he is asked, should be able to give his certain and constant reasons, not least of all you, so great and so learned a professor of theology…’ Then the question came (in both Latin and German) ‘Do you wish to defend all your acknowledged books, or to retract some?

After a few pleasantries Luther commenced:

Most serene emperor, most illustrious princes, concerning those questions proposed to me yesterday on behalf of your serene majesty, whether I acknowledged as mine the books enumerated and published in my name and whether I wished to persevere in their defense or to retract them, I have given to the first question my full and complete answer, in which I still persist and shall persist forever. These books are mine…In replying to the second question, I ask that your most serene majesty and your lordships may deign to note that my books are not all of the same kind. For there are some in which I have discussed religious faith and morals simply and evangelically, so that even my enemies themselves are compelled to admit that these are useful, harmless, and clearly worthy to be read by Christians. Even the bull, although harsh and cruel, admits that some of my books are inoffensive, and yet allows these also to be condemned with a judgment which is utterly monstrous…Another group of my books attacks the papacy and the affairs of the papists as those who both by their doctrines and very wicked examples have laid waste the Christian world with evil that affects the spirit and the body. For no one can deny or conceal this fact, when the experience of all and the complaints of everyone witness that through the decrees of the pope and the doctrines of men the consciences of the faithful have been most miserably entangled, tortured, and torn to pieces…Therefore, I ask by the mercy of God, may your most serene majesty, most illustrious lordships, or anyone at all who is able, either high or low, bear witness, expose my errors, overthrowing them by the writings of the prophets and the evangelists. Once I have been taught I shall be quite ready to renounce every error, and I shall be the first to cast my books into the fire…

Once Luther had finished this response the Emperor said—as if in reproach—that he had not answered the question. Moreover, Luther should not call into question, ‘those things which had been condemned and defined in councils.’ What was wanted from Luther was not a ‘horned response, but a simple one’ whether or not Luther wished to retract. In Luther’s own words, he answered:

Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, neither horned nor toothed: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen.

Unlike the Luther movie, there was no standing ovation at this point. Rather, the secretary accused Luther of answering impudently and not to the point. Moreover, they virtually accused him of being a Hussite, ‘But now you revive those [errors] which the general Council of Constance, composed of the whole German nation, has condemned, and you wish to be refuted by means of Scripture. In this you are completely mad…’ An argument then continued over the erring of church councils which Luther claimed he could prove but the Diet had no patience for that argument. ‘Lay aside your conscience, Martin; you must lay it aside because it is in error; and it will be safe and proper for you to recant. Although you say the councils have erred you will never be able to prove it, in matters of faith at least, and even in matters of morals I fancy it will be with much difficulty.’ Getting nowhere he exclaimed ‘God help me!’  

Luther was in Worms for another week attending a number of meetings as requested. The impasse was certain but Luther was assured of the Emperors protection for only a matter of weeks. However, with Jan Hus in mind, the Emperor’s uncle – and Luther’s protector – Frederick the Wise, had Luther ‘kidnapped’ and moved to Wartburg Castle where Luther would be kept safe, write many letters and translate the New Testament into German.

(See LW 32:103-133)

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Diet of Worms

A Diet of Worms… (2) 500 years ago today (17th April 1521)

Luther arrived in Worms on the 16th of April. Sometime before lunch on the 17th of April (500 years ago today) Ulrich von Pappenheim came to Luther where he was staying and told him that his audience with the Emperor (including the electoral princes, electors and dukes) would be at four o’clock that afternoon. At the appropriate time, Luther was taken via side streets to avoid the growing crowd who wanted to see Luther. Once in the presence of the Emperor Luther was warned not to say anything unless he was asked. But the time came to respond when Johann Eck, the secretary of the Bishop of Trier, made this statement:

His imperial majesty has summoned you here, Martin Luther, for these two reasons: first, that you may here publicly acknowledge if the books published so far under your name are yours; then, whether you wish all these to be regarded as your work, or whether you wish to retract anything in them.

The books were read out and Luther responded:

Two questions have been put to me by his imperial majesty: First, whether I wish all the books bearing my name to be regarded as my own work; second, whether I intend to stand by them or, in fact, retract anything from those which have been published by me till now…First, I must indeed include the books just now named as among those written by me and I shall never deny any of them. As for the next question, whether I would likewise affirm everything or retract what is supposed to have been uttered beyond the testimony of Scripture…

Luther was evidently feeling the weight of the world, standing in front of the Emperor who could sign his death warrant. Yet I think, more than that, Luther felt the weight of getting the Scriptures right. Did he interpret the Scriptures faithfully in what he wrote? This is a question of faith and salvation! Being slaughtered by the Emperor—or being excommunicated or exiled by the Pope for that matter—was nowhere near as important as getting the Scriptures, and thus the gospel, right. As a result of this Luther requested, ‘I beseech your imperial majesty for time to think, in order to satisfactorily answer the question without violence to the divine Word and danger to my own soul.’

Through a pretentious grant of clemency Luther’s wish was satisfied. He was to return at the same hour the next day and declare his answers to the Diet ‘by word of mouth.’ Luther went back to his residence, was admonished not to fear and was encouraged—no doubt—by the shouting of a bystander who exclaimed, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you’.

(See LW 32:103-133)